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Arsenal confirms loan moves for two academy players

It’s been a busy summer for the academy.

AFC Wimbledon v Arsenal U21 - EFL Trophy Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

While we await the flurry of transfer market moves we expected from the first team, the Arsenal academy hasn’t been wasting any time. The club quickly confirmed five players exiting on permanent moves before finding great season-long loans for two of the academy’s top talents in Daniel Ballard and Matt Smith. Then came the news that goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo has moved up to the first team as the third keeper.

On Monday Arsenal confirmed two more loans as they continue to make room for the next group of young players to get minutes with the U23 side. For one player, this likely marks the end of his time with the club, while the other is an interesting forward option who is getting his first test at the senior level.

Nikolaj Moller

Moller joined the Arsenal U23 team this past fall from Malmo’s academy, where he was dubbed ‘The Next Zlatan’. Even though he came into the season late, Nikolaj scored eight goals and provided three assists from 20 matches, including four goals from his first seven matches and scoring in both of Arsenal’s last two matches as they secured their spot in the Premier League 2.

Now the club is looking to get Moller senior-level experience with a season-long loan to FC Viktoria Koln in the German third division. Last season they finished 12th in the division, but this appears to be a great opportunity to test Nikolaj in Germany and assess his level heading into the 2022/23 season for Arsenal.

Be sure to check out Nikolaj’s Young Gun profile which was recently published on the Arsenal website.

Deyan Iliev

Despite joining the Arsenal academy in 2012, Dejan has never pushed for a role within the Gunner’s first team goalkeeper ranks. He has had a series of loans across Europe and numerous stints with the U23 side, which was highlighted by winning the title with that side in the 2017/18 season. But always behind Matt Macey, who has since departed from the club, Iliev will now see out the last year of his contract at a familiar location. This will be his second stint with SKF Sered in the Slovakia Super League and perhaps lead to a permanent move there.

Academy Summer Transfer Market Recap:

  • Daniel Oyegoke - Brentford (Premier League), permanent move.
  • Zech Medley - Oostende (Belgian First Division), permanent move.
  • Trae Coyle - FC Lausanne–Sport (Swiss Super League), permanent move.
  • Mark McGuinness - Cardiff City (Championship), permanent move.
  • Ben Sheaf - Coventry City (Championship), permanent move.
  • Daniel Ballard - Millwall (Championship), full-season loan.
  • Matt Smith - Doncaster Rovers (League One), full-season loan.
  • Nikolaj Moller - FC Viktoria Koln (German 3.Liga), full-season loan.
  • Deyan Iliev - SKF Sered (Slovakia Super League), full-season loan.

While Iliev isn’t expected to ever play a role in Arsenal’s first team, Moller is definitely one to keep an eye on over the next few seasons.