Arsenal academy forward Nathan Butler-Oyedeji is excited for his first loan spell, but he’s expecting the switch to Accrington Stanley to be challenging.
Arsenal have a number of young forwards out on loan this season, and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji added to that list on the January transfer deadline day – joining Accrington Stanley.
The loan is Butler-Oyedeji’s first spell in senior football, though he did get a taste of the senior game earlier this season.
The Arsenal u21s compete in the EFL Trophy, playing against senior opponents, and Butler-Oyedeji scored four goals in four games in the competition and won the Player of the Group Stage award.
That has given Butler-Oyedeji confidence for a senior loan, but he admits he knows that league football will be a different prospect entirely.
“In 21s football at Arsenal it’s a bubble, but in the Papa Johns Trophy games it’s not just tactical and technical, it’s physical,” Butler-Oyedeji said.
“Clubs go longer and there are a lot of dark arts you wouldn’t see in the 21s games so it’s definitely helped.
“I played against Cambridge, which was a good experience.
“This is different though as I am going into the league where people are fighting for three points, trying to get out of relegation battles and playing their strongest team possible.”
As for the loan move in general, Butler-Oyedeji suggested it’s both an exciting prospect for him and also a much-needed test.
“When Accrington came in, I saw it as a really exciting project,” the forward went on. “I saw the opportunity to play in League One with a really good bunch of lads and a good manager that wants to get out of a tricky situation so it will be a good experience for me.
“I want a challenge, I haven’t played professional football before. I have been doing well with the 21s and been in and around the first team so this is the next step.
“It is hard (to move away from home in London) but this is the kind of stuff you have to do, growing up.
“I have just turned 20 but these are the things football that you are going to have to overcome at times. Branching out here is a good step in my career.”
The best loan moves all take players outside of their comfort zone. That’s arguably the point.
Butler-Oyedeji now has the chance to show he can deal with that adversity and still contribute positively for his team, starting with a potential League One debut against Lincoln City at 15:00 on Saturday.