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Arsenal Loan Roundup: End of Season Edition - Part 1

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A look at how the season on loan went for players away from the Emirates and what the summer holds.

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Now that the 2020-21 season is over it’s a great time to see how things went for the numerous Arsenal players, at the senior and academy level, who spent time away on loan. The club has experienced first-team players that likely need to be moved on this summer, players who should be given the chance to break into the Premier League squad for next season, and a wide range of young prospects, some of whom are ready for a bigger test.

Here is a breakdown of the first set of players with part two coming soon:

Player/Age: Daniel Ballard, 21

Club: Blackpool

Season recap & Outlook: The young center back completed his first full season at the senior level, making 29 appearances for Blackpool in League One. The club finished third, beating Oxford United 6-3 in the semi-finals, and will take on Lincoln City this Sunday (5/30 on ESPN+ at 10 am ET) for the final promotion spot to the Championship. As a primary contributor to Blackpool this season (plus two goals and an assist in the playoffs), Ballard has proven he is ready to test himself at the next level now. The Northern Ireland national team defender should look for a return to Blackpool if they win promotion or push for a move within the Championship next season. Not ready for the Arsenal first-team yet, but this loan move was the right first step towards challenging for that role in the future or at a minimum become an asset for Arsenal in the transfer market.

Player/Age: Harry Clarke, 20

Club: Oldham Athletic

Season recap & Outlook: Another young defender getting his first experience away from the Arsenal academy setup. 35 matches for Oldham Athletic in League Two, as the club finished 18th in the fourth tier. While not a remarkable season for Oldham, it was a valuable one for Clarke. Expect him back out on loan in the lower league next season.

Player/Age: Matteo Guendouzi, 22

Club: Hertha BSC

Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2022

Season recap & Outlook: When he was picked up from Ligue 2 for just €8m and immediately made an impact on the first team it was seen as a great bit of business by Arsenal. One time valued between €40-50m, his fallout with Mikel Arteta and subsequent loan to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga has seen his value dip to an estimated €20m. Guendouzi featured regularly this year on loan, 24 matches, two goals, and three assists, as Hertha finished 14th in the league, just two points away from the relegation zone. He ended the season on the sidelines with a metatarsal fracture which complicates any moves this summer. With one year left on his contract, but at just 22, and with plenty of potential if he can find the right fit, Arsenal may be best served to extend his deal and to try to look for a full transfer next summer if he can have a strong 2021-22.

Player/Age: Tyreece John-Jules, 20

Club: Doncaster Rovers

Season recap & Outlook: Seen as one of several potential future attackers from the academy setup behind Folarin Balogun, John-Jules had a mixed season that will likely leave the player and club wanting a re-do next year. He suffered two injuries that kept him out for large portions of the season, but when available made a sizeable impact at Doncaster. With five goals and three assists from 21 matches, the club finished 14th, but only ten points out of the playoff positions. He returned to the team as the season wrapped up, including a goal on the final day, and should look for another season in League One where he can be a regular starter.

Player/Age: Sead Kolasinac, 27

Club: FC Schalke 04

Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2022

Season recap & Outlook: A full season loan to Schalke where he became their captain in a dreadful season which saw the club finish in last place in the Bundesliga. Schalke managed just three wins, giving up 86 goals, and were 15 points behind the next worst team in the league. He is fully expected to make a transfer out of Arsenal this summer and with one year left on his contract (plus the season he had), if Arsenal can get $5m for him they’ll take it and move on.

Player/Age: Konstantinos Mavropanos

Club: VfB Stuttgart

Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2023

Season recap & Outlook: Joined Arsenal in January 2018 and has for most of his time been an afterthought for the fanbase. That outlook seemed to shift this season after he had arguably his best year helping Stuttgart finish 9th in the Bundesliga and got his first cap for the Greek Men’s National Team. With David Luiz exiting there will be a lot of attention this summer around if Mavropanos or Saliba (or both) can work their way back into the Arsenal first-team heading into next season. Arteta has plenty in-house to work with at center back next season - Holding, Gabriel, Mari, Mavropanos, Saliba, and even Chambers. There will be more pressure to utilize Saliba after his transfer fee and Konstantinos has made it seem as though he would be happy to spend another year on loan at Stuttgart.

Player/Age: Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 23

Club: West Brom

Under contract at Arsenal until: June 30, 2023

Season recap & Outlook: After a year and a half of playing fill-in fullback at Arsenal, AMN finally got his chance to consistently start in midfield at West Brom. While the club ended up relegated, it was a great opportunity for Ainsley to prove his value at the position he prefers to play. Now it comes down to what the player wants this summer. At Arsenal, he could work to develop into a true right-back, but it doesn’t look like Arteta sees him as an option in central midfield. Or does the player prefer to move on from Arsenal as he looks for a starting role in the midfield? His home-grown status and multi-positional flexibility could help Arsenal get $25-30m. It’s great to have a utility player in your squad, but I expect the club to help him move on if he is ready to move on from that status, and I can’t blame him.

Player/Age: Mark McGuinness, 20

Club: Ipswich Town

Season recap & Outlook: Another of Arsenal’s academy players making his first move away from London Colney. The center back made 25 appearances helping Ipswich finish 9th in League One, but only three clubs in the division allowed fewer goals than McGuinness’s side. He fell out of favor in early spring but regained his starting role for the final six matches of the season as Ipswich picked up nine points. With Arsenal full of options at CB at the senior level, and several promising academy CB prospects (thanks Per!), McGuinness should spend another season on loan at this level or a lower-end Championship side.

Player/Age: Zech Medley, 20

Club: Kilmarnock FC

Season recap & Outlook: The fourth Arsenal academy CB on loan, but Medley, who has made a few first-team appearances, made the move to Scotland instead of the lower tiers of English football. Zech got in just ten matches during the back-half of the season as Kilmarnock barely avoid relegation (11th place). He helped the club reach the Final of the SFA Cup, but wasn’t used on the day, nor was he called upon to help in their Scottish Premiership Playoff matches against Dundee United. While he did manage to contribute a goal, it’s probably best for Medley to spend a full season on loan in the Championship or League One where he can get more matches and consistent playing time.

Of those nine players out on loan the only two that seem to have a shot at making the first team next season are Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Konstantinos Mavropanos. Arsenal has several intriguing academy players here that could develop into contributors in the years to come or assets to transfer out as they get more experience playing at the Championship / League One level. Hopefully, Arsenal can find reasonable money for Guendouzi & Kolasinac, find the right fit for AMN, bring Mavropanos back into the fold at the Emirates, and secure loans in the Championship for Ballard and Medley.