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Arsenal Loan Watch: World Cup Break Part 1 - Balogun, Flores & more

How are the Gunners away from home faring?


Now that we have entered the 2022 World Cup break in Arsenal’s season, it is the perfect time to check on the players away on loan. While Mikel Arteta’s side and players like Folarin Balogun (Ligue 1) will be on a hiatus, for the majority of these players their league schedules will continue on. Here is a look at the first batch of young Gunners.

Note: This series was written covering matches up through November 15th.

Tim Akinola, 21, DM

Chesterfield FC (National League, 5th Tier)

Season update & Outlook: Thus far the 2022-23 season is looking like a repeat of last year. Akinola has seen limited time at Chesterfield appearing in just six matches (of 14) for a total of only 201 minutes. He has mostly featured as a second-half sub in central midfield getting just a single start. But with the team currently third in the National League right behind Wrexham, a sudden uptick in involvement for Akinola appears unlikely.

Ryan Alebiosu, 20, RB

Kilmarnock FC (Scottish Premiership)

Season update & Outlook: Outside of a knee injury that sidelined him for a week in early October, Alebiosu has been a regular presence in Kilmarnock’s lineup. He has split his time across right midfield and right-back, but the club sits next to last in the Scottish table. Alebiosu has played nearly every minute in the Scottish cup where Kilmarnock have three wins by a combined score of 7-2. That sees them into the semi-finals and set to face off against Rangers in mid-January.

Miguel Azeez, 20, CM

UD Ibiza (LaLiga2)

Season update & Outlook: One of the better-known names from Arsenal’s U23s over the past few seasons. Azeez has been mentioned as a potential first-team player in the future, perhaps stepping in for Mohamed Elneny. However, an unexpected move to Spain’s second division has turned into a slow start to the season. Azeez has seen significant time as their defensive midfield, but Ibiza sits next to last in the table having let in the most goals in the league. He will be hoping for a more productive December through March if he wants to extend his time at Arsenal.

Folarin Balogun, 21, CF

Stade Reims (Ligue 1)

Season update & Outlook: Now here is how you want a loan to go. When we last checked in at the end of the summer transfer window, Balogun’s Tranfermarkt value was $4.4 million, not its $14 million. The start of the season has been a tremendous success for Balogun and validation of Arsenal’s updated contract for him (through 2025). 15 matches in Ligue 1, eight goals, and two assists helping Reims into a mid-table position. Balogun leads Reims in goals, goals+assists, shots, xG, and goal-scoring actions. At this rate, he will be pushing for Eddie Nketiah’s role next season or a loan to a Premier League side.

Mika Biereth, 19, CF

RKC Waalwijk (Eredivisie)

Season update & Outlook: Following his return from injury which saw him miss the first month of action, Biereth had four straight substitute appearances. The highlight of this run was the October 7th match again FC Groningen, two mid-table sides. Ricardo Pepi, the former MLS Young Player of the Year (2021) and USMNT World Cup snub, opened the scoring. Biereth subs on in the second half the match tied 1-1 and scores just eight minutes later. Pepi levels the match in the 76th minute only to see Mika hit the match-winner four minutes after. However, since then he’s seen minimal action and missed out on even making the bench for their last four games.

Harry Clarke, 21, CB

Stoke City (Championship)

Season update & Outlook: Since recovering from a shin injury Clarke has become a mainstay in Stoke’s backline. He has started four of their last five matches and has made an appearance in every game since the start of October (11). Most notable was his 89th-minute goal against league leaders Burnley to grab a late point in a 1-1 draw. And while he often played for Arsenal’s U23s at CB, Stoke City has been using him as a right-back and a right midfielder.

Ovie Ejeheri, 19, GK

Chelmsford City (National League South, 6th tier)

Season update & Outlook: While Chelmsford City may be down in the semi-professional ranks, Ejeheri is getting the regular starts Arsenal was looking for. He already has 17 starts and an impressive record - 8 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses. Chelmsford City is currently fourth in the table. If Ejeheri can keep his spot as the starting keeper throughout the season, he should be able to get a move into the football league next year.

Marcelo Flores, 19, AM

Real Oviedo (LaLiga2)

Season update & Outlook: Arsenal’s second promising young midfielder lining up in Spain’s second division this summer. In Flores’ case, Real Oviedo is out of the relegation zone, compared to Azeez’s Ibiza in 21st. He has been included in their match-day squad for every game across competitions including his first assist in his most recent appearance. A bit too young to make this World Cup cycle’s roster for Mexico, but will be on their radar for the 2026 edition set to be played in Mexico, the US, and Canada. Across his ten matches for Oviedo so far, Flores has played at least twice at right-wing, left-wing, attacking midfielder, and a second striker

Balogun is the clear standout from this group and is in the midst of a career year at Stade Reims. Beyond him, which player are you most excited to monitor this season and who might have the best chance of one day being a part of the first team setup? Check back tomorrow for part two.