The Return of the Loanees – Part Two

Continuing on from the previous instalment, this article places all of Arsenal’s players who were farmed out on loan last season under the microscope.

How did these players do, did they fully grasp the opportunity they were given whilst on loan? Did they enhance their chances at Arsenal with their performances? Or did they show that a career with the Cannon on their chest is just beyond them?

Read on, and hopefully you can decide –

Serge Gnabry

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What a contrast of fortunes for the young German, Two seasons ago, Gnabry had broken through into Arsenal’s first team, providing a useful alternative from the bench and earning a few starts in the process. The future looked bright for Serge, and a loan to a Premier League club looked to be the final hurdle in establishing himself as a potential Gunner.

Unfortunately, Tony Pulis thought otherwise. At the Hawthorns, Gnabry was cast into the wilderness, rarely making even a substitute appearance. Pulis even went as far as to publicly declare how far away the youngster was to making an appearance in a West Brom shirt.

Wenger recalled Gnabry early from his nightmare at the Baggies, and Gnabry started to rebuild with the Under21 side. He impressed, and he needed to.

This young left-winger has one year left on his contract. Another loan move surely beckons, and if this one goes awry, all the potential in the world will count for little. He needs to show he has the mentality to match his talent.

If he impresses, he could very well come back to Arsenal with justifiably high hopes.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

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This young prodigy impressed massively at Portman Road under the tutelage of Mick Mccarthy, making over thirty appearances for the play-off chasing side. He was singled out for praise regularly by his Yorkshire-born Manager throughout the season, and the only blot on his copybook came from his mother!

Mrs Maitland-Niles left Mccarthy a rather vitriolic voicemail after he denied her son permission to attend a kit launch. This resulted in her son being left out of the side for a stretch. If he can perhaps remind his mother that he can fight his own battles, then it may just enhance his chances of success!

He plays predominantly on the right, but can switch flanks if required to. This versatility will not harm him, and will allow him more gametime during his next loan spell.

A loan in the Premier League will be the next step, and if he can light up his club as he did at Ipswich, then Wenger will be aware. He still has a lot to prove, but his career is going in the right direction.

Emiliano Martinez

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Martinez’s fourth loan spell was a season long tenure at Wolves. He played fifteen times for the Molineux side, conceding nineteen goals.

The Argentinean is still only twenty three, but he is now at the stage where he needs to play in the top flight. He has Petr Cech, fellow loanee Szczesny, and David Ospina ahead of him, so another spell away is needed to progress, but he must ensure it is in the Premier League if he wants to stay in Wenger’s plans.

He is another of our loanees who started the recent friendly versus Lens, but will his display allow him to elevate himself to Petr Cech’s understudy? The rumours flying around regarding David Ospina are that he has handed in a transfer request, which would aid Martiniez’s cause immeasurably.

Martinez has the talent, but the odds of becoming Arsenal’s Number One are long.

Wellington Silva

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The enigmatic Wellington. He has been on Arsenal’s books since 2010, and last season, his stint at Bolton was his SIXTH loan. Fortunately, it was also his most fruitful.

He amassed twenty five appearances for the relegated Trotters, and he was utilised in a variety of positions, even cropping up at right-back.

He has technique, and he has the ability, but after so many loans, does he have exactly what it takes to break through? At this current time, it appears not. A revealing Instagram post from the Brazilian links him with a move to Fluminense, and it looks like the move has legs. At 23, his Arsenal career looks to be over. (On the 19th of July, it was confirmed that Wellington Silva had left Arsenal for Fluminense).

Gedion Zelalem

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The German-born American at one time, was lauded just as much as Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Zelalem’s prospects though, are still bright.

A loan spell at Rangers was an excellent move for all concerned, and Zelalem appeared twenty nine times for the title-winning ‘Gers.

He does need to hold down a position however. Central midfield is where he sees himself, but his lightweight frame is the main obstacle to becoming an all-action midfield dynamo.

What next for Zelalem? He has stated that he would enjoy returning to Ibrox as they continue their recovery in the SPL, and a step up in quality would give Gedion the ideal next stepping stone in his career.

The door is firmly open for Zelalem’s Arsenal career. Included in pre-season against Lens and for the impending US tour, his Gunners future is bright.

Glen Kamara

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Kamara was part of the Arsenal team that was destroyed by Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup last season. Arsene Wenger came out post-match and stated that the youngsters who played in this game were simply not ready for the step up.

A death knell for those players, you would think. When one of those players was Alex Iwobi however, then Kamara and the others can breathe a sigh of relief.

Iwobi is the poster boy for these returning youngsters. He has shown what can be achieved, and Kamara must keep the Nigerian in mind, when he no doubt goes on loan again.

Kamara plays in defensive midfield, and the second half of last season was spent at Southend. He made a mere six appearances in League One, and he must make sure that the next loan move – if he is not sold – gives him ample opportunity to play.

The signs are not good for Kamara.

Mathieu Debuchy

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An unfortunate twist in Mathieu’s Arsenal career meant that, after impressing, he found himself behind the whirlwind that is Hector Bellerin.

Unable to sate himself with the thought of being back-up, he nearly found himself at Old Trafford, but instead chose to go on loan to Bordeaux.

He needed games to ensure his Euro dream would remain intact, but it wasn’t to be.

His situation at Arsenal hasn’t changed, and perhaps has worsened. His negative noises, allied with the return of Carl Jenkinson means his Arsenal days are surely numbered. A surprise inclusion for the Frenchman in the draw against Lens may matter little for his future destination.

Carl Jenkinson

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Jenkinson’s love for Arsenal is no secret, so two seasons spent at another club must’ve been a choice made with a heavy heart.

It has done him the world of good though, and he hasn’t looked out of his depth at Upton Park. Dependant on who you speak to, he was a mixed bag during his time there, but when fit, he held the right-back slot under pressure from others in the claret and blue of West Ham.

He returned early from his second stint as he suffered a torn ligament, and his recovery must be speedy if he wants to reclaim his squad place at Arsenal.

Another loan spell is not the answer. Now he must exert pressure on Bellerin, and when given a chance, take it with both hands. He is good enough to play, but whether it be at the heart of the defence, or on the right, is another matter.

It is impossible to predict what will happen with Jenko. It is simply up to him if he makes it.

So many players returning, and some of them have genuine aspirations of greatness at Arsenal. What is clear is that some have futures elsewhere. Regardless of where they will continue their career, they have been given a solid foundation at Arsenal.

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