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Are Arsenal set to lose their 4th academy prospect this summer?

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Why might the defender not see a future at the Emirates?

Arsenal v Manchester City: Premier League 2 Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

A trio of Arsenal youngsters left the club last week after spending time away on loan this past season. None were huge surprises, or losses, considering they had yet to seriously challenge for a look by the first time and seeing plenty of other options at the club. However, West London Sport is reporting that Daniel Oyegoke is set to leave London Colney this coming week despite a new contract offer from Arsenal. The report indicates that Oyegoke will instead opt to sign for Brentford as they make their return to the top flight, even though he is expected to initially play for their reserves team.

Who is Daniel Oyegoke?

The 18-year-old right-back has been with the Arsenal academy for years but finally broke into the U18 side making 15 appearances and scoring once two seasons ago. Last season he split his time with the U23 team, playing in 11 Premier League 2 matches and the EFL Trophy Cup. He has plenty of versatility with the ability to play at right-back (his primary position thus far), center-back, and left-back. Oyegoke is also thought to have the potential to operate as a right wing-back and right midfield. He made this debut for the England U18 side this past season in a 2-0 win over Wales.

Right-back at Arsenal

You could make the case that the right-back position the most uncertain at the moment for Arsenal. Long time starter Hector Bellerin is expected to leave this summer (with Inter Milan the latest rumor), Cedric (set to be 30 this season) isn’t a long term option, Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is capable of adapting to the role, but may opt to play elsewhere as a defensive midfielder, and then Calum Chambers who offers up the best case of the bunch as being a depth player (RB & CB) at Arsenal over the next few seasons.

Then you look at the academy players - (1) Jordi Osei-Tutu who spent much of last season injured, could spend another season on loan in the Championship, (2) Zak Swanson managed just 3 matches last year on loan and needs to be further tested, and (3) Ryan Alebiosu who was the primary right-back for the U23s this past season.

The question comes down to where Oyegoke thinks he stacks up against those academy players over the next few years. If he spent the next two seasons playing in the Premier League 2 and on loan at the Championship/League One level, would Arsenal management seriously consider him for a first-team spot? Or is there a quicker route to test himself?

Why Brentford?

The last time the Bees were in the top flight was in the 1946-47 season. And after nearly earning promotion the season before last, Brentford won the ‘20-21 Championship playoffs and will now get to celebrate their new stadium in the Premier League with fans. Their primary right-back last season, Henrik Dalsgaard, is heading to FC Midtjylland this summer, leaving 22-year-old Mads Roerslev Rasmussen and 18-year-old Fin Stevens (who was once in Arsenal’s academy) as the current contenders.

While Brentford will surely look to sign a more experienced option to add to Rasmussen, you can see why Oyegoke might be tempted to jump to the fellow London club. They are looking to improve their B-team (reserves), but are not part of an official academy or reserves league at the moment. If Oyegoke could impress early on, he, just like Stevens, could find himself in the squad for Cup matches and eventually the Premier League.

Is it worrying that a potential right-back talent may prefer to leave Arsenal and sees a brighter path forward with a smaller club? Could Arsenal instead convince Oyegoke to sign a new deal and instead be loaned to Brentford or a team in the Championship next season? With all the uncertainty around Arsenal’s right-back position at the moment seeing a young option walk away it’s cause for concern, but hopefully isn’t one Gunners’ fans come to regret in the next few years.

Arsenal opens the 2021/22 Premier League season away to newly-promoted Brentford on Friday, August 13th.