This season Arsenal has taken full advantage of the loan system to find great opportunities in the England pyramid for their U23 players, as well as clubs where their senior players can get regular starts (for the most part). Here is a look at the remaining eight players currently away from Arsenal.
If you missed part one of the Arsenal loan roundup you can catch up on that here - Part 1.
Player/Age: James Olayinka, 20
Club: Southend United
Status check & Outlook: It’s not been a good season for Southend as they look to be relegated into the National League. But Olayinka has taken full advantage of his senior-level stint, playing as a center-mid, attacking-mid, winger, and wide-mid, while scoring three goals. This past weekend he got his first appearance in months, but Southend has struggled to find any consistency. Olayinka should be able to find a home next year in League One or Two.
James Olayinka was back in action tonighthttps://t.co/cPLT1fbyhz— Chris Phillips (@CJPhillips1982) March 24, 2021
Player/Age: Joseph Olowu, 21
Club: Wealdstone FC
Status check & Outlook: Typically a center back for the Arsenal U23s, Olouw has been lining up at right-back for Wealdstone in the National League. However, he only managed three appearances before picking up a calf injury that has seen him on the sidelines since late February. Once back from injury he will need another year on loan to determine if he has any chance to breakthrough.
Player/Age: Jordi Osei-Tutu, 22
Club: Cardiff City
Status check & Outlook: He began the season as a starter for Cardiff in the Championship, a great sign for a potential right-back at the senior level for Arsenal in the future. A hamstring injury in October derailed his progress and kept him on the sidelines for the middle portion of the season. He has since returned from his injury but remains out of the squad with Cardiff in the thick of the playoff chance. The potential to be a starting right-back at this level, if not the Premier League one day, but needs next season to reestablish his place.
Player/Age: William Saliba, 20
Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2024
Status check & Outlook: Year one on loan was part of the plan. This season isn’t quite what fans, Saliba, and probably the club had hoped year two would look like. After spending the first half of the season primarily with the Arsenal U23 side, Saliba has made 14 appearances for 11th place Nice in Ligue 1. Compared to Mavro, which you kind of have to given their position, age, and current status, he hasn’t had as strong of a season, but Nice has limited opponents to two goals or less in all but one of Saliba’s matches. With Gabriel, Mari, Holding, (are Luiz and Chambers sticking around?), and possibly Mavropanos, is there a clear place for Saliba next season. The club will want the investment they made in him to begin to show. Still just 19, it might be another year on loan for Saliba, if Arteta still doesn’t feel he is ready, perhaps in the Premier League this time?
David Luiz (1,076 minutes played) & William Saliba (990 minutes played on loan at Nice) are the two outfield players with the most minutes played in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season without being dribbled past once. [@SofaScoreINT] #afc pic.twitter.com/hydk7ARfPk— afcstuff (@afcstuff) March 9, 2021
Player/Age: Ben Sheaf, 23
Club: Coventry City
Status check & Outlook: One of the names you might be familiar with from the U23s and Arsenal’s preseason tours in past seasons, Sheaf has established himself as a regular starter in the Championship this year. 31 appearances, including one assist, at defensive midfielder as Coventry looks to stay up after being promoted last season. Sheaf has been a part of the matchday squad for all but two matches for Coventry across all competitions. They have an option to buy him at the of the season and at 23 you wouldn’t blame him or Arsenal for making that move. A leap into the Arsenal first team over the summer seems unlikely at the moment.
Player/Age: Matt Smith, 20
Club: Charlton Athletic
Status check & Outlook: After a successful first half of the season with Swindon Town (26 appearances, 2 goals & 4 assists), he joined fellow League One side Charlton Athletic who are in a very tight race for the final playoff spots. While less frequently a starter at Charlton, Smith looks like a player able to continue his progression next season with a loan in the Championship.
Player/Age: Lucas Torreira, 25
Club: Atletico Madrid
Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2023
Status check & Outlook: 22 appearances for the Spanish league leaders sounds good, but Torreira is averaging under 30 minutes a match. His limited role is a combination of the fact that Atletico has a solid squad and his failure to make the case that he deserves to move up their depth chart. However, they have the option to purchase him at the end of the season, and if not them, then there will be suitors expected from both Spain and Italy. Despite being a fan favorite and just 25, Lucas’ time is likely up in London, but $20-30 million could go a long way towards Arsenal’s summer to-do list in the transfer market.
Player/Age: Joe Willock, 21
Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2023
Status check & Outlook: This season was certainly Willock’s best at the senior level (18 appearances for Arsenal, 3 goals, and 3 assists), and by January he and the club knew a loan away for the second half of the season would give him the best chance to continue that development. Scoring in his first start for Newcastle, Willock has started regularly, which was the primary goal of the move, but the club continues to struggle to avoid relegation after losing key attacking players to injuries. Unless a club comes in with a $20-30 million offer this summer (or a Newcastle full season loan offer), expect Willock back with Arsenal to start next season. Between his homegrown status and potential growth at 21, bringing Willock back in and ending Ceballos’ loans might be a smart move. Willock has had more goals, assists, and goal-creating actions than his senior counterpart.
Now let us know what you think the future holds for these players. Will Saliba stay with Arsenal next season? Where will Torreira land? Should Willock be brought back into the fold, a full season on loan, or sold? And which of those U23 players is the most likely to become a starter for Arsenal one day?