While most of the headlines surrounding Arsenal on Deadline Day will be featuring Matteo Guendouzi’s loan to the Bundesliga, Thomas Partey’s expected arrival, and Lucas Torreira’s loan to Atletico Madrid, the club made three moves on Tuesday to help in the years to come. Two new arrivals and one short term departure, let’s break them down.
Re-enforcing the U23s’ attack
Who: Nikolaj Möller, 18-year-old forward
Experience: Played in the Malmo & Bologna youth system’s, but has yet to appear for either senior side. Will likely join the U23s.
Report: A reported €500k deal from Malmo by Johan Flinck.
Where he fits in: This isn’t last year’s move for Gabriel Martinelli. Moller will need time to develop his game and determine his potential. But the U23s need a boost in firepower. Sam Greenwood was sold to Leeds United, Tyreece John-Jules has made a loan move to Doncaster Rovers, Trae Coyle is out on loan at Gillingham, Robbie Burton left last season for Dinamo Zagreb, and Nathan Tormey opted against signing a new contract (but has yet to find a new club).
That’s five of the top six scorers from last season’s U23 squad gone. Leaving just the main man, Folarin Balogun (10 goals in ‘19-20), but who has failed to extended his contract with Arsenal so far. All that means that Nikolaj Möller should get plenty of opportunity this season.
Rebuilding the future defense
Who: Omar Rekik, 18-year-old centerback
Experience: He’s been with Hertha BSC II in the lower leagues in German and has featured for Netherlands’ U18s & Tunsia’s U23s.
Report: A €1m deal as reported by Rik Elfrink.
Where he fits in: The center of defense for the U23s has had a ton of activity this window. Four players from last season have exited - Zech Medley, Mark McGuinness and Ballard (see below) are all heading out on loan, while Tobi Omole was released and joined the Tottenham academy. That makes plenty of room for Rekik to prove his value early on, as he joins Jonathan Dinzeyi (from Spurs) on a rebuilt backline.
Time for senior football for Ballard
Making room for Rekik to get playing time quickly, one of the U23s primary CBs prospect this season, Daniel Ballard, made a move to Blackpool on loan. Ballard will play with the League One side for the first half of the season, before likely evaluating the value to both clubs and the player for an potential extension in January.
After finishing 13th last season, Blackpool has lost three of their first four fixtures and are in need of additions. Ballard joined Arsenal’s academy at the age of six and signed a new senior contract with the club last year, despite missing most of last season due to knee surgery. At 21, Arsenal will be looking for Ballard to secure a regular role at Blackpool and make his case for a senior team spot in the coming years.
Three to continue to keep our eye on.