After Willock, Arsenal’s 16 other senior loanees assessed – Keep or sell?

Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Joe Willock will be at Arsenal next season, ending Newcastle’s hope of making his loan deal permanent at Saint James’s Park.

The 21-year-old has become the youngest player to score in 6 consecutive Premiership fixtures and will look to take his record to 7 on Sunday.

Both the player and Steve Bruce haven’t ruled out a transfer, but Mikel Arteta has made it clear he is planning a future with the midfielder.

To be fair to our manager, he has always insisted that the short-term move was always part of the youngster’s development. It’s a policy which Arsene Wenger used several times as well.

The idea of sending him to Tyneside was to give Willock a taste of first team Football every week and having done everything that was asked of him, it would be morally wrong not to give him another chance at the Emirates, especially at a time when the squad lacks goals from midfield.

It should be stressed that Willock has played 40 times for the Gunners in the Prem and scored once.  So it’s not like he hasn’t had opportunities in North London and can no longer hide behind lack of experience.

My stance with any graduates from the academy is that their talent is not in question. You don’t be at the same club from the age of 5 and progress all the way to the first team if you haven’t shown the relevant people that you have ability.

What separates a good player from a great player is their mentality. That ultimately decides who plays for a team in midtable compared to those who win medals.

Can you cope with the pressure of having to win every week? Can you handle the scrutiny when you don’t?

It’s one thing scoring for a side near the bottom of the table, in an empty stadium, a fan base resigned to a negative style of football. That doesn’t mean you can handle everything that comes with starting at a top four team, which we are told is meant to be our minimal level.

I often compare Willock and Reiss Nelson with Saka.  Two years younger, Saka has the personality to demand the ball with the self-belief that he can make the difference.

When Joe Willock pulls on the red and white shirt, he looks like he’s grateful to be there, scared to make a mistake. His coaches at Colney will see very early in pre pre-season if that has changed.

It’s now or never. If never, at least we know Newcastle will hand us a decent fee. Yet ethically, he deserves one more chance. It can no longer just happen in the League Cup or UEFA Conference (if we qualify).


So we had clarification on Willock but what about other Gunners who have been out on loan? (not including short term loans).


Maitland Niles (on loan at West Brom)

Whether he has a future at the Emirates might come down to the player himself.

He’s been decent at the Hawthorns, but I would expect anyone wanting to be in our first team to be decent at a team 19th in the table!

His choice of the Baggies over Southampton seemed naive, especially considering our right back spot was up for grabs in the run-in, maybe even left back as well. He was going to have to do something special in West Brom’s midfield to prove to the manager of his parent club and country that he can play there for them.

There is nothing wrong with backing yourself and that should be encouraged. Equally you have to be smart and listen to the people who are paid to help you. He’s 23 now, like Willock he can’t keep hiding behind being a youngster.

The reality is he’s played 121 games for Arsenal. For the majority of those games, three managers have preferred him as a full back. Can they all be wrong?

At a time when we need to raise funds, 20-30 million for a makeshift full back is worth it. I would have a conversation with the player and if he insists that he wants to play further forward, it is best for both parties for him to move on.

Verdict – Sell


Torreira – Atletico Madrid – Loan to South America

Could be about to lift La Liga although he has been a bit-part player.

Simeone has praised his work rate and to be fair that’s never been in question. You wouldn’t have seen Torreira walking around at snail’s pace in a Europa League Semi Final.

The player’s issues have been more off the pitch. Outside of Italy, he hasn’t settled elsewhere in Europe, his homesickness intensified by the death of his mother this year. Even his Dad has publicly pleaded with Arsenal to facilitate a move to South America where his son can be close to his family.

That would mean the Gunners approving another loan deal as few clubs outside of Europe can afford the transfer fee.

Some Gooners were happy to question Ozil’s integrity when he wanted to stay when he wasn’t wanted. Now we have a grieving 25-year-old asking to leave. Let’s see if Arsenal do what they judged Ozil for doing?


Guendouzi- Hertha Berlin – Keep

This maybe won’t happen, because if Arteta was going to give the 22-year-old a fresh chance he would have done so last summer. Our manager’s final straw was when the players reaction to a loss at Brighton was to boast to the opposition about his salary.

I should stress that the young Frenchman hasn’t done anything to indicate he wants to fix any faces.

Arteta has to be careful. His job is to work with talent on the training pitch and teach them. There’s quite a few players now who he’s simply given up on and asked the club to pay to not play.

Based purely on ability, he’s better than Elneny. Like Torreira he would have offered high intensity against Villarreal, even if he does sometimes run around like a headless chicken.


Saliba – Nice -Keep

Already confirmed that he will be back next season. The bigger question is should he have been loaned out in the first place?

Arteta has always insisted the move back to France was for the player’s development, the Spaniard feeling the player had missed too much football due to Covid, and due to the death of his parents needed to be back in his homeland.

The defender in response inferred that either wasn’t told that or he disagrees with the decision. There are some who have the theory that as a signing made under the previous regime, our manager simply doesn’t rate the centre back and doesn’t understand why so much money was spent on him.

Again though Arteta has to work with the resources he has and can’t just give up on talent. He’s been good at Nice, but he was good at Saint Etienne, hence why we gave them 30 million.


Mavropanos- Stuttgart – Loan

Been so good at Stuttgart they want him for a second season.

Arsene Wenger has often insisted the reputation the defender has at the club and how he’s seen as the future, hence why Arsenal gave him a new contract before he went to Germany.

23 is young for a defender so there is no need to rush the player, especially after some serious injuries. The player didn’t have to extend his deal so obviously has been told these loans are all part of his development.

Arteta is very strict though in terms of discarding anyone he feels won’t fit into his ethos, so it would be good man management to have a reassuring chat.


Kolasinac – Schalke – release

He was part of our bid in January to slash the wage bill (why was that a priority when we had made our worst start in decades?).  There was even talk that Arsenal were willing to pay to rip up Kolasinac’s contract which might be an option again in the summer.

Not having a backup left back actually proved a mistake with Xhaka ending up playing there. Not that Arteta ever trusted Kolasinac there. When he did play the Bosnian, it was in a back three.

Schalke immediately recognised his leadership qualities making him captain. The fact he’s willing to stay despite relegation tells you the level he’s now at. You can never doubt his work rate or effort but he is simply not good enough.


Zach Medley -Gillingham – release

Because social media had heard a buzz about him, 12 months ago they were campaigning for the then 19-year-old to be picked over Mustafi even though the majority had never seen him play.

In reality the defender has just had 8 games on loan in Scotland.

What will be more concerning is his loan spell in the first half of the campaign. After 18 starts, Gillingham started to even pick the centre back in their squad. That will be Arsenal’s bigger takeaway then what he did in the SPL.

It hasn’t been confirmed if the Gunners will take up the option of adding one year to a contract about to expire


Trae Coyle – Gillingham- Keep – back to Under 23

A high reputation in our under 23, loan at Gillingham was a huge set back. While teammate Medley was called back after 18 games, Coyle only played in League One 3 times.

Combined with the cups, his goals to game ratio was decent, but he simply wasn’t ready for first team Football. Technically very good but needs to work on physique and be less lightweight…


Matt Smith – Swindon / Charlton – Loan

Famous for being on the bench in the FA Cup Final despite never playing for us instead of Ozil (a Footballing decision apparently?).

He was on a roll at Swindon playing in every game and became a fan favourite.

Arsenal then ruined it by half way through the season sending him to Charlton where he only played 8 times.

He is now out of contract which means he could leave with an FA Cup medal having never played for us. Has that happened before?


Osei-Tutu- Cardiff -Keep

Some Gooners wanted the full back transitioned into the first team squad after a successful loan spell in Germany. Unfortunately, a spell in Cardiff was overshadowed by two serious injuries.

There is no question that the right back has a future at Arsenal, but he might need another loan to prove he can stay fit.


Ben Sheaf- Coventry- Sell

Having proven himself with Coventry, has shown he can handle himself at Championship level. It’s believed that Coventry will make an offer, although reports vary on if they have an obligation or an option to buy. At 22, unless Arteta is going to give the midfielder a chance now, don’t stand in his way.


Tyreece John Jules- Doncaster -Loan

This young striker is believed to be just behind Balogun in the production line.

Doncaster liked him very much after he scored 5 goals in 18 games, although he just couldn’t stay fit. A loan to the same club would suit all parties


Mark McGuinness – Ipswich – Loan

It’s believed Arteta likes the defender. After a dodgy period in the middle of the season, he solidified himself in Ipswich’s first team in the run in with 9 clean sheets overall.

A loan to a Championship club is the logical next step.


Daniel Ballard – Blackpool -Loan

One of our most successful loan signings.

Has had a fantastic season for Blackpool gaining a lot of attention from Gooners after his man of the match display in the first Leg of the League one play off. It will be fascinating how he copes with the pressure of a Wembley Final.

Because of the level, it’s maybe too early to say he could solve our defensive problems, but the idea that a loan is to prove yourself, then the 21-year-old couldn’t have done much more.


Tolaji Bola- Rochdale – Sell

At 22, one of the oldest members of our academy.

You felt his loan spell was now or never at Rochdale and honestly there was nothing to get excited about. Given our problems to find cover at left back if he was on Arteta’s radar you would have seen signs of it by now.


Harry Clarke – Oldham – loan

Had rave reviews by first Harry Kewell and then Keith Curle at Oldham where the midfielder equally proved his versatility, playing midfield and right back.

It feels like he’s proved his toughness with previous accusations that he was too light weight. He says he’s open to a second season at the club., so why not let him?


Be Kind In The Comments




  1. Footnote – Medley is at Kilmarnock in the play offs.

    Once iliev, Luiz, ceballos and odegaard depart the club will be down to 17 non-homegrown players.

    We will have a fairly decent squad of 30 players left.

    I would have no problem in retaining the rest though I do think Bellerin, Kolasinac, Torreira and Nketiah will all be leaving the club.

    1. Also guendozi, sheaf, Bola, osei-tutu and most likely runarsson.

      I think our first signing will be Matt Ryan, who Brighton did not want to play against them today,, so the deal has been delayed.

  2. Thanks for this, Dan. Was interesting to read as I haven’t followed most of these players

  3. Saliba needed 1more season, he got it , end of story.
    Arteta has no problem managing talents, Saliba and Guedozi talents are not more than Saka, Martinelli and ESR talents, every player should be ready to abide by the rules and learn irrespective of your talent or hype, no kid is bigger than the club.
    Guendozi should apologise to the manager and be humble to learn or get sold (in fact I’ll prefer we sell him)
    Am afraid Saliba seems to have an agenda, fingers crossed though, now that luiz is gone, he should come in to replace the veteran, let’s see if he has the potential to wear the shoes, hopefully his PR guys are on standby to pacify arsenal fans when things go south

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