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Arsenal Loan Watch: End of Season Recap - Part 3

Is it time to bring the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year into the fold at the Emirates?

UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final”Olympique de Marseille v Feyenoord Rotterdam” Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Will next season finally be the time when William Saliba is given a go at Arsenal? Will Lucas Torreira find a resolution to his contract issues with Fiorentina? What does the club plan to do with MLS center back Auston Trusty? Could someone like Jordi Osei-Tutu challenge for a depth role at right-back if Cedric exits? Let’s break down the final eight players in the loan round-up.

Part 1 - Ryan Alebiosu, Tim Akinola, Daniel Ballard, Folarin Balogun, Hector Bellerin, Harry Clarke & Matteo Guendouzi.

Part 2 - Karl Hein, Tyreece John-Jules, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Jordan McEneff, Nikolaj Möller & Reiss Nelson

Player/Age/Position: Brooke Norton-Cuffy, 18, RB

Club: Lincoln City

Season overview & Outlook: Depth at right-back is something that Arsenal needs to address this season as well as plan for the future. After spending most of the first half of the season sidelined due to a knee injury, Norton-Cuffy had a solid half-season loan in League One. 17 matches, one goal, one assist, and 12 starts to help Lincoln City comfortable avoid any relegation worries. He also got his first match for the England U19s in March. Next season look for a full-season loan in a top club in the third tier or perhaps even a shot within the lower half of the Championship.

Player/Age/Position: Jordi Osei-Tutu, 23, RB

Club: Rotherham

Season overview & Outlook: Further up the right-back pecking order we find Osei-Tutu. After missing most of the first half of the season with a hamstring injury while at Nottingham Forest in the Championship, Osei-Tutu dropped down to League One with Rotherham. After such terrible luck the past two seasons, he had a great last four months. 16 matches split at right and left midfield saw Osei-Tutu help Rotherham gain promotion to the Championship (2nd place) and lift the EFL Trophy at Wembley partially thanks to his equalizer in the 6th minute of stoppage time. He has one year left on his current Arsenal deal, but hopefully, a strong year with Rotherham in the Championship could garner him a new senior contract and the chance to factor into Arsenal’s midfield or full-back depth in a season or two.

Player/Age/Position: Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, 27, GK

Club: OH Leuven

Season overview & Outlook: An odd signing that never looked likely to work out for Arsenal. Rúnarsson spent this season in the Jupiler Pro League, playing 20 times for OH Leuven, seeing them finish 11th. I’m not sure where he ends up next season, but ideally, it is off Arsenal’s books as they make way for Matt Turner and possibly one of their U23 options, while Rúnarsson can put this chapter of his career behind him.

Player/Age/Position: William Saliba, 21, CB

Club: Marseille

Season overview & Outlook: It’s been a long process, but that time has seemingly paid off. Now it’s time for Arsenal to integrate the young French defender into the Premier League. Three years and $33m later, Saliba has spent three seasons in Ligue 1 with a trio of clubs establishing himself as a top-flight defender. On the back of helping Marseille finish second in the league, he won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award and received his first two caps for the French National Team. Still just 21 and with two years left on his current deal, now seems like the perfect time to integrate him into Arsenal’s squad as they prepare to challenge for the top four and the Europa League next season. Gabriel/Saliba - White/Holding. Sounds like a nice quartet of young defenders already available to Mikel Arteta.

Player/Age/Position: Matt Smith, 21, CM

Club: Doncaster Rovers

Season overview & Outlook: Smith has logged some serious minutes in League One the past two seasons. In 2020-21 he played in 35 matches, primarily for Swindon Town, before becoming a key piece of Doncaster this year. 49 matches and over 4,000 minutes played. Smith was Mr. Reliable in their midfield, although the side could not avoid relegation. Smith’s performance will likely earn him a new home higher up in League One next season, if not better, to determine if he can continue to develop or if that level is realistically his range.

Player/Age/Position: Tom Smith, 19, GK

Club: Welling United

Season overview & Outlook: A National League South appearance! But you would be forgiven if you missed any updates about the young Arsenal keeper in the sixth tier. Despite being with the club all season he only managed to make it into the squad twice — shipping seven goals in 143 minutes of action. Perhaps a season back with the U23s next year is in order.

Player/Age/Position: Lucas Torreira, 26, CM

Club: Fiorentina

Season overview & Outlook: It seemed like Torreira was headed for a full transfer to the Italian club after a positive season with them in Serie A. However, it looks as though Fiorentina wants to lower both the fee to Arsenal and Torreira’s wages. That sends him back to Arsenal (technically) for the summer after five goals and two assists from 35 appearances helping the club finish 7th and secure a spot in the Europa Conference League. Odds are that Fiorentina comes back to the table at the previous terms or another Italian/Spanish club makes a bid for him. If not, is there any chance Arteta sees a place for him in a squad that needs a significant upgrade in overall depth?

Player/Age/Position: Auston Trusty, 23, CB

Club: Colorado Rapids

Season overview & Outlook: Last season he was a key piece in the Rapids claiming the MLS Western Conference Championship. So far this year he has started 13 of Colorado’s 15 matches and will remain with the MLS club until mid-July. Trusty will have two seasons left on the deal between Stan Kroenke clubs, but exactly how Arsenal plans to use him is unknown. He should get his Arsenal debut this summer when the club travels to America for a series of friendlies, but as August approaches where exactly might they look to loan him in order to give him experience in England and evaluate his potential for the first team?

26 players in total left Arsenal for either half or the entirety of the season. How many of those will feature for the first team in the future?