Goalscoring Jeffrey continues Arsenal’s trend of non-league loanees

A couple of years ago the very idea of an Arsenal youngster heading on loan to a non-league club in order to further his development would have seemed a rather alien concept. Now, however, it is becoming an increasingly regular practice, with sprightly winger Anthony Jeffrey heading to Conference South side Boreham Wood on a short-term loan.

Jeffrey certainly made an instant impression. The 19 year old scored on his debut against Berkhamsted in the Hertfordshire Senior Cup last night, whilst also setting up a goal for fellow Arsenal loanee Austin Lipman, who added another goal late on.

In additon, goalkeeper Josh Vickers, who is still in the second year of his scholarship at the club, is, rather than featuring for the U18s and occasionally making the bench for the U21s, receiving regular game time at Canvey Island, with the goalkeeper having turned in some outstanding performances already this season.

For the three youngsters listed above, their loan spells outside of the English Football League system are likely to have a myriad of benefits. They can experience regular football at a relatively competitive level whilst still being able to feature for the Arsenal development teams on occasion under the terms of their youth loan. They are also surely likely to benefit from having to cope with the increased physicality of non-league football and, whilst they are away, Arsenal can hand chances to other youngsters at U21 and U19 levels.

Jeffrey was certainly in need of a loan spell, with the winger having been somewhat isolated from the U21 set-up in recent weeks despite featuring three times at that level in the opening months of the campaign. The Hale End product has found himself usurped by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a player almost three years younger than him, and, despite signing a professional contract in the summer, has been unable to put the experience that he gained during a short spell with Stevenage last season to good use.

Lipman, too, is reaping the benefits of playing regular football. Having greatly impressed for Arsenal in the UEFA Youth League, he has since been handed a starting berth at Boreham Wood, whilst he would still have been behind the likes of Benik Afobe and Chuba Akpom in the pecking order. The fact that Arsenal’s development sides play the majority of their home fixtures at Boreham Wood is also beneficial in terms of alerting that particular club to the potential that some of the Arsenal youngsters have.

With Arsenal possessing so many promising talents at youth level, not all of them can be afforded regular match action, and, as Jeffrey, Lipman and Vickers have shown, non-league loans can offer a worthwhile temporary solution.



  1. He’s behind mait-land & iwobi. Jeffery @19 playin non league does not bode well 4 his arsenal future I expect de likes of boateng ansah jeffery fagan afobe aneke miquel yennaris 2 leave among de second years only kamara & iwobi should get pro deal mugabo dawkins vickers uade should leave

    1. Maybe he can gain some fitness and maybe a league 2 or 1 side will pick him up? January window is coming. At least this is better than U21 and from the highlights I’ve seen of this non league football its still pretty good.

  2. Vickers’s case is different. Unless desperate or having a connection (Brentford goalkeeper coach had a connection with Arsenal) lower league teams rarely trust a young goalkeeper. Playing first team football in a competitive environment is better for him than playing in a semi-meaningless U21 game.He is learning much more there. The same way Tech9 learned a lot at Brendford and Mannone at Hull.
    Loaning players to non-league team under a Youth team arrangement allows for better control of the loan. You can get more assurance on their playing time and AFC can still use them in European competition. If you loan a player to a League 1 club and they decide against using the player, there is nothing the club can do until the next transfer window. It is then time and effort wasted.
    With so many players released, non-league football is also becoming a good reservoir of opportunity for lower league club. Where before non-league footballer were just big lump without any technique, there is more and more league loanees (Jenkinson was one the season we bought him), academy drop-out. For team with good scouting network, it can be a better, cheaper and less risky recruitment process than hiring a 30-35 years old players after a last paycheck.
    In league 2, there is more and more players coming from non-league football initially on non-league contract, then on a 1 year contract with a further option. Lower league contracts tend to be shorter than premiership and championship anyway. There is very few team that offers 3 years contract.

    I think that for some of our players, it is a good exposition in view to get a contract with a lower league contract. For fringe players for whom the staff has doubt, it is a good opportunity to convince them that they can make it.

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