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Arsenal Loan Watch: Mid-Season Edition - Part 3

We close out our look at the Gunners away from home, including one potential key player for Arsenal next season.

RC Lens v Olympique de Marseille - Ligue 1 Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

We’ve reached the conclusion to this mid-season review of Arsenal’s players out on loan. Yes, there are still more out there. If you’ve made it through the first two parts and are still reading, well done. However, if you’ve somehow stumbled into the conclusion to this trilogy and want to read through the first two chapters first you can find those links below.

Part 1: Azeez, Ballard, Balogun, Bellerin, Clarke, Dinzeyi, Guendouzi, & Hein.

Part 2: Iliev, John-Jules, Maitland-Niles, Mari, Mavropanos, Möller, & Nelson.

In this edition you’ll see (1) a major question mark for the summer, (2) an ‘oh yeah that guy’, and (3) perhaps a few ‘who is that?’.

Player/Age: Brooke Norton-Cuffy, 18

Club: Lincoln City

Season overview & Outlook: The young right-back spent the first half of the season between the U18s, the U23s, and recovering from a knee injury. He was also called in for a trio of England U18 matches in November. Norton-Cuffy now makes the leap into League One, a level many of his peers take an extra season or two to reach. Lincoln City are 16th (of 24) at the moment, and while this is mostly to gain senior-level experience, Norton-Cuffy already saw the pitch as a late sub this past weekend.

Player/Age: Jordi Osei-Tutu, 23

Club: Nottingham Forest

Season overview & Outlook: He’s had experience at both right and left-back, but has had a difficult time recently with a reoccurring hamstring issue. Last season he joined Cardiff City in the Championship had five starts to begin the season and then missed most of the year due to a hamstring injury. This year he was getting a redo in the Championship with Nottingham Forest before being sidelined after just two matches. Now back with the U23s at the most, his future for the remainder of this season and looking forward with Arsenal next year are uncertain. There is plenty of potential there, but missing out on a year and a half of action has stunted his development at the worst time.

Player/Age: Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, 26

Club: OH Leuven

Season overview & Outlook: As news breaks about Arsenal’s next backup keeper, Matt Turner, a previous, but odd attempt to fill that role is finding a new home in the Jupiler Pro League. After starting the season on the bench, Runarsson has since taken over the starting role. He is expected to leave on a permanent move this summer.

Player/Age: William Saliba, 20

Club: Marseille

Season overview & Outlook: This summer will mark the completion of Saliba’s third year under contract at Arsenal despite having zero minutes for the first team. From St-Etienne to Nice and now at Marseille, Saliba has been a fixture in their backline helping see them into 3rd place in France and into the Europa Conference League after finishing third in their group. Domestically Marseille have only allowed 16 goals from 21 league matches, the best in the league. With Saliba’s value and profile in France continuing to climb and two years left on his current deal with Arsenal, this summer should be the decision point. Either Arsenal bring him in to complete the CB set (Gabriel, White, Holding & Saliba) or look to sell him, ideally at not a significant loss. At just 20 he still has miles of development ahead of him and may be just what Arsenal need if they make it back into European competition next season.

Player/Age: Matt Smith, 21

Club: Doncaster Rovers

Season overview & Outlook: Unlike a number of U23 players, Matt Smith’s loan in League One has been fruitful. 30 matches and nearly 2,400 minutes, even though the results have been unfortunate — the club currently sits bottom of League One. Smith has managed two assists but is logging quality time at central & defensive midfield. While he may not be ready for a first-team spot yet, this hopefully can lead to a greater challenge next season in the Championship to evaluate his long-term potential.

Player/Age: Tom Smith, 19

Club: Welling United

Season overview & Outlook: Another young Arsenal goalkeeper in the system who was spending the season down in the sixth tier of English football. After a handful of starts in the National League a year ago, he ended last season regularly starting for the Arsenal U23s. It’s been an uneventful loan spell with just two appearances before picking up an injury and being recalled by Arsenal this month. His status for the remainder of the year remains unknown.

Player/Age: Lucas Torreira, 26

Club: Fiorentina

Season overview & Outlook: Over the past few weeks it’s tough to remember that Arsenal have a few experienced center mids out on loan. But like Guendouzi, Torreira lost his spot in the squad and a return to that relationship is highly unlikely. A fixture for 7th place Fiorentina in Serie A, Torreira has logged 20 matches, with 2 goals and 1 assist in the defensive midfield role. With just one year left on his contract after this season, Lucas will likely be sold to Fiorentina over the summer in a bid to increase their odds of landing Dusan Vlahovic.

There you have it. 22 Arsenal players who have been or are still out on loan this season. With just days left in the transfer window, there could see be a number of U23 players finding new homes for the back half of the campaign. How many of the senior players have a realistic chance of making Mikel Arteta’s squad next August? And which of the U23s may be the next academy breakthrough to follow in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe?