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Zak Swanson exits Arsenal for Portsmouth

Despite a regular on the bench, there was no clear path for playing time with the first team.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Joining the Hale End academy back in 2009, Zak Swanson has been a regular presence with the Arsenal U18 and U23 squads for the past few seasons. But after seeing his development stalled, Swanson elected to exit the club and sign a new deal with League One’s Portsmouth.

Despite often being deployed as a right-back, Swanson had an eye for goal. In 66 matches at the U18/23 levels, he scored nine times, with a further four assists. His versatility will be valuable in League One having spent time at left-back, center-back, and on each side of the midfield. For the 2020/21 season, he made his first loan move to MVV Maastricht in the Eerste Divisie (2nd tier) for half a year. It would prove unfruitful after only getting on the pitch for 170 minutes over three months.

This past season he returned to Arsenal, helping the U23s reach the quarterfinals of the EFL Trophy and play 12 times in Premier League 2 (2 goals + 2 assists). After Takehiro Tomiyasu suffered a setback with his calf injury, Swanson became a regular name on Mikel Arteta’s bench. His ability to cover both fullback positions saw Zak in the Arsenal matchday squad for the final 15 games of the Premier League season. But with Tomiyasu the returning #1, Cedric still at the club, and reports of the club interested in signing a new RB, there was little chance Swanson could find playing time with Arsenal’s first team.

Last season in League One, Portsmouth finished in 10th place and 10 points shy of the playoff positions. Next season will be their sixth consecutive campaign in the third tier but should offer Swanson regular playing time and the chance to fully begin his senior-level career.