When Bacary Sagna left Arsenal, some thought that meant it was Carl Jenkinson's time. He's been an Arsenal fan all his life (as his family has, which led to this tribute by Jenks to his grandfather that never fails to make me cry) so many fans have a special place in their hearts for him, myself included. But over the summer we bought Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, one a clear Sagna replacement and the other a multi-position man who'd spent plenty of time at right back. The emergence of Hector Bellerin meant we had four players for one position, which is too many even at an injury-ravaged club like Arsenal (well, in theory at least).
So Carl left for West Ham on loan, and proceeded to have a really good season according to just about everybody. With Debuchy spending almost the entire year injured and Chambers looking like more a centerback than a right back, there could once again be an opportunity for Jenkinson. And Arsene Wenger is leaving the door open for him.
I met Carl this week to speak about his future. We will sit down together at the end of the season, but my target is to keep him here at the club going forward.
He has had a great season for me and he has moved forward and overall he has gained a lot of confidence. The decision I have to make is do I bring him back now or does he need one more year now to play in the Premier League. It is not decided yet.
He needs experience. Carl is a young, very promising right back with top quality and he had a good year where he has really moved forward. It’s important that he has a good chance to play if he comes back.
I'm really torn on this situation, honestly. I think Jenkinson has the potential to at least serve as a backup for Bellerin going forward, and possibly to challenge him for a first team slot. I'd like to see him come back for next season, but if Bellerin and Debuchy both stay healthy for the most part, I don't know where his minutes would come. On the other hand, after this season I have very little faith in that being the case -- Debuchy has been injured almost the entire season, and Bellerin has had his share of issues as well. Having Jenkinson around for that eventuality would be great.
If I had to guess now, I would guess Jenkinson goes out on loan again, at least for the first half of the season. But I think even if that's the case, we can expect to see him back in the red and white soon.