The Return of the Loanees – Part One.

Whilst not matching Chelsea’s exodus of players farmed out on loan, Arsenal can look forward to a healthy amount of additions to bolster our ranks.

With the addition of Granit Xhaka, and the promise of our club continuing to plunder the transfer market this summer, our squad appears to be in rude health.

The question for the players returning to Colney is whether they can establish themselves upon Arsene Wenger’s plans this coming season, when the competition for places has become ever more heated.

This article will look at each player who was sent to a loan club, examine their performance, and deem whether they have an opportunity to further their career at their parent club, or whether another move – be it another loan or something more permanent – would be the best course of action.

There were many of our men who were on loan last season.

This is Part One –

Jon Toral

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Toral has made the choice to join Granada on a season-long loan, and this top-flight stint could prove the litmus test, although last season, he was outstanding.

This young Spaniard couldn’t have done much more to further his cause during his season long stint at St Andrews. He won three awards at the club’s end of season bash – among them was goal of the season and player of the year – and he played a huge part in the club flirting with the Play-offs.

He made thirty six appearances in the Championship, with eight goals and four assists. It wasn’t his figures that earned him the plaudits though, but his all-round displays which mean that if he chooses, he could forge a career elsewhere.

The problem for Toral is competition at Arsenal. He prefers an attacking midfield slot, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for him in that regard, with Ozil, Cazorla, Jack and others ahead of him in the pecking order. If he is to make a mark as a Gunner, it would possibly be on the flank. He has played there previously, and we know that Wenger is partial to testing his young charges on the wing before moving them centrally.

Toral will have admirers, and if he wants games, then he may look to one of these clubs who yearn for him. 

Chuba Akpom

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This twenty year old has been making waves for the England Under21 side, but his domestic season at Hull City had peaks and troughs. The season long loan to the Tigers was his fourth loan move, and that doesn’t bode well for his Arsenal future.

He made over forty appearances in the gold and black of Hull, with a return of seven goals and one assist. Hardly setting the world alight, but his pace and link-up play earned him the approval of Steve Bruce. He proved a constant thorn in the side of opponents, but he also showed his surly side when being subbed off in one game in the season – which eventually led to the youngster apologising to Hull fans for his behaviour.

Most Gooners would love to see Akpom given a shot in pre-season, but I think if he was going to make the grade, he would have by now. Hector Bellerin has proven that age matters little – if you’re good enough, then you will play. Akpom is now twenty, and has had a raft of loan moves to try and refine the raw talent he has.

He started the recent friendly game versus Lens, which bodes well – but will he be allowed the gametime during our US tour to make an impact?

There is no doubt he could make it at the top grade, but I don’t think it will be at Arsenal.

Wojicech Szczesny

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The brash Polish keeper was always confident in his own ability, and an opportunity to play in Serie A was too good for Wojicech to turn down. He went on to establish himself as Roma’s Number One, and played forty two games for the club.

The gloves are his if he wants them, but he has openly declared his desire to be Arsenal’s goalkeeper in the near future – or alternatively, he has stated he wants to stay at Roma, it all depends which source you believe.

Szczesny’s talent was never the issue. It was his over-confidence which was his undoing at Arsenal. His cockiness led to mistakes and also the signing of Petr Cech, who now occupies the space between the sticks at The Emirates.

Cech will be Arsenal’s keeper for the foreseeable future, and Wojicech’s arrogance will not allow him to bide his time on the bench. If Szczesny is told that Cech will again be Number One for Arsenal, then Szczesny will not be at the club next season, whether it be another loan or finally cutting the ties with the club he loves.

Yaya Sanogo

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The much-maligned would-be Postman started off last season with a surprise loan switch to Ajax. If any of his talent could be coaxed out, it would be achievable at the home of where some of the brightest talents in history have learned their trade.

His spell under some of the best coaches proved to be a disaster of sorts, and his errant displays in training meant he was only afforded three games in the Eredivisie.

In January, he was sent out again, to struggling Charlton this time.

He was given more minutes this time, perhaps due to the fiasco unfolding at the club, but he did show a flash of what he could be capable of, by scoring a hat-trick late in the season.

He is nowhere near good enough to play for us, but there is definitely something there to polish. The problem for Sanogo is, most clubs will not have the time required to refine his potential. If he is anywhere near our first team for this season, it will be more than surprising.

Daniel Crowley

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Young Crowley was meant to stay at Barnsley until January, but Arsenal recalled him prematurely. At the time, he was struggling to force his way into the Tykes team, but Manager at the time – Lee Johnson – had nothing but praise for Crowley, going as far as declaring him the ‘most talented 17 year old he had ever seen.’

Since being recalled, he has been playing for the Under21 side at Arsenal, and has made thirteen appearances in all. What is the next stage of development for him however?

If he can be utilised during pre-season, then a loan to a Championship club could be on the cards. If that is a success, then he could well be on Arsene’s radar. 

Oxford United are the lucky recipients of Crowley’s talents, but will he get more game time than last season?

There were more who were on loan last season, so keep your eyes peeled for Part Two soon – only on The Hot Stepanovs!

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