Bellerin amongst five Arsenal loanees forced to make decision on their next step



Loan spells are often seen as the final step in a player’s development, with a successful stint elsewhere providing the perfect springboard towards regular action at their parent club.

Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to gauge whether spending time out on loan is beneficial or not for the individual concerned, with some players struggling to command regular game time for their temporary sides.

Five Arsenal youngsters see their existing loan deals expire within the next week and the club, in consultation with the player themselves, will be forced into deciding whether these spells should be extended.

Perhaps the most difficult decision is the one facing Hector Bellerin. The 18 year old has been mightily impressive for Watford when handed a starting berth, notably providing a sensational assist against Leeds United, but has fallen out of favour somewhat since Gianfranco Zola left the club. Bellerin has not started under new manager Giuseppe Sannino, and only emerged off the bench for the final five minutes at home to Millwall yesterday. Bellerin is at the stage of his development where he will be seeking to at least have some involvement for the Arsenal first-team next season, so the decision on whether his loan is extended could be pivotal for his short-term development.

Goalkeeper Damian Martinez, having remained on the bench for the first few weeks of his loan, has featured regularly for Sheffield Wednesday in recent weeks, making six appearances for the Championship side, but found himself back on the bench for yesterday’s game against Blackburn Rovers. In his case, being in and around a Championship club is likely to be beneficial for his development so long as he does not remain amongst the substitutes for the rest of the campaign.

Nico Yennaris, meanwhile, has not featured at all for Bournemouth since he joined them on a short-term deal and a brief return to Arsenal, before another, hopefully more fruitful, loan spell elsewhere, would appear to be the best solution to the problem. Yennaris, who turns 21 in May, is entering the final few months of his current contract at Arsenal and is desperate for a chance to prove his worth.

Anthony Jeffrey has been in scintillating form for Boreham Wood recently, rendering the fact that the winger has hardly featured for Arsenal’s U21 side all the more confusing. With chances at Arsenal likely to remain scarce, Jeffrey, it would seem, would be best off remaining at Meadow Park for the rest of the season before making a concrete decision on his future in the summer.

Austin Lipman has also caught the eye at Boreham Wood having previously been in impressive form for Arsenal’s various development sides earlier in the campaign. Under the terms of his loan Lipman is still eligible to play for Arsenal at youth level when needed, and he may join Jeffrey in extending his deal with the Conference South side until the end of the campaign.



  1. Bellering, Martinez , Lipman and Jeffery can continue till the end of January before a reassessment. I really can’t tell concerning Yennaris

  2. Has Bellerin fallen out of favour, or was it just injury?
    Think they should all stay where they are, tbh, bar Jeffrey who should be playing higher, and Yennaris maybe should go to League 1.

    More interesting is seeing if Eisfeld, Miyaichi and Gnabry get loans. Gnabry could start for a fair few teams in the PL, and although he continues to get into our squad I think it would be beneficial to us now pods and Theo are back. Miyaichi needs to prove himself in the PL, while for Eisfeld it must be getting close to the end of his Arsenal career if he doesn’t do something somewhere.

    I guess Benik Afobe will go to a Championship side if he can prove his fitness, while I would like to see Olsson and Akpom get first team experience somewhere.

    1. Yeah Gnabry will stay. He will be very very useful to have. Once Chamberlain comes back it will be a lot harder for Gnabry but I think he should play ahead of Bendtner for sure.

      1. Also depends if we bring someone in, I guess. A loan with a recall option to a PL team would be good, imo. At the moment he is getting experience by training with the first team, but not getting much game time either for the first team or reserves.
        If Wenger sees Walcott or Podolski as serious options up front then maybe he will get minutes, if not loan him out.

      2. why once ox comeback it will be more difficult!!! right now gnabry is in front of chamberlain with some good performance when call upon. the ox will have to work harder because the last few performance when he play for the first team have been below par

      3. lordgunner

        Ox is a world class player. He is a full international. He is extremely good and versatile. Below par is your opinion. Its not fact. I don’t think he was bad at all. While Gnabry only played a few minutes to show how good he is Ox has played like 2 seasons and against world class teams. He has done great for 80-90min in those games so Ox have the upper hand. He is also very consistent.

    1. to be fair there is not a lot of difference if any in quality between the 4th tier and the 6th tier. Many of the players in tier 6 are there out of choice as they are part-time and earning much better money in their main job, than they would as a full-time player in div 1. There is the added factor of families, some players prefer to play in the lower leagues, staying local and not forcing instability on their families, moving schools, spouses changing jobs and circles of friends, etc for very little benefit.

    2. U21 is probably better when they play matches but a few did not get U21 matches and when they did it was like 15-20 min at most. Now they are playing in a much more intense environment every week. In the end they will benefit from this. If this works out we will for sure trying to loan more players in the lower divisions. If Kos and Giroud could go from div 2 to Arsenal within 2-3 years then maybe some kids can go from div 6 to div 1 in 2-3 years? I would say thats good education right there. Obviously some are good enough to start from div 2 or 1 already and work from there on.

  3. I have high hopes for Martinez and Miguel to join Gnabry and Zalalem in the First team next season. I do fear though that the likes of Yennaris, Einsfeld, Afobe and Aneke may struggle to get into the 25-man squad. Another season out on loan for these players?
    Bellerin, Hayden, Olsson and Toral have time on their side, so with Macey/Iliev in goal and Akpom up front, could well form the backbone of our U-21 squad next term.

    1. of the players you have mentioned only martinez and miquel have to worry about making the 25 man squad next season. its the turn of the 1992’s to take their place in the 25 next season that is

      list a
      Jack Wilshere
      Emmanuel Frimpong
      Carl Jenkinson
      Daniel Boateng
      Ryo Miyaichi
      Samuel Galindo
      Joel Campbell
      Damian Martinez
      Ignasi Miquel

      there may also be the returning loanees

      list b
      Johan Djourou
      Francis Coquelin

      whilst others that must be looking at their place in the squad are

      list c
      Tomas Rosicky
      Bacary Sagna
      Lukasz Fabianski
      Chu-Young Park
      Thomas Vermaelen
      Emiliano Viviano
      Abou Diaby
      Nicklas Bendtner

      I would say this lot are certain of their place

      Mikel Arteta
      Mathieu Flamini
      Per Mertesacker
      Santiago Cazorla
      Lukas Podolski
      Laurent Koscielny
      Nacho Monreal
      Olivier Giroud
      Mesut Ozil
      Theo Walcott
      Kieran Gibbs
      Wojciech Szczesny
      Aaron Ramsey
      Jack Wilshere
      Carl Jenkinson

      meaning there are just 10 spaces left for the players in the 3 lists above and new signings. so I expect at least 9 departures (permanent of loans in the summer)

  4. Apart from Jack Wilshere at Bolton, we don’t appear to have a good track record at marrying up loan deals for young players with other clubs. More care needs to be taken to ensure that their potential to become a first team squad player is enhanced by a loan spell rather than harmed, as currently appears to be the case.

    1. Would suggest the loans separate the players who have a chance and those who don’t. Szczesny was outstanding on loan, and even though it was only a League 1 club it put him firmly in the frame for the first team squad.
      However it is more to do with the individual. Gibbs hardly shone at Norwich, where he played mainly as a winger, yet came back, worked hard and learnt to be a top left back.
      We have also had some players who were very successful on loan but still didn’t get a look in at Arsenal (Nordtveit, Bartley and Botelho spring to mind, and Joel Campbell more recently). One of the issues with loan system is that players get impatient for first team football.

      The loan system is far from ideal imo. I would prefer a continental “B team” system. But I don’t think we can blame the clubs we loan to for players not stepping up.

  5. I hope Bellerin either stays on loan at Watford or finds a new loan club where he will start games. With the amount of experience he already has at u21 football im not sure there’s much point in him continuing at that level. Also, Moore looked very good against utd u21s, hopefully Bellerin’s development doesn’t conflict with Moore’s development. It will be really interesting to see the battle between them for a first team place in the future

  6. Hectorinho got another 90 minutes today. Think he was benched on Boxing Day due to the hip injury, plus mass of fixtures. Looks good for him to remain a regular starter.

  7. Loans are going to be the difference between us having a good shout in some youth tournaments, especially Uefa Youth League, and having no chance whatsoever.

    The difference once Gnabry and later Bellerin were out of picture was very noticeable; should even a couple more of the best young players- Chuba, Hayden, Olsson, Toral,- go on loan, it’ll amount to giving up almost in the UYL (and Chuba’s surely a key player in FA youth cup also). Also, if,say, two of the four leave, how motivated will the others be playing in competitions where our chances have sharply dropped.

    Tough calls all round, but I can’t help but be disappointed at the thought of youth teams being weakened in that way, particularly when the majority of loans haven’t been working in recent years.

    1. TBF, while it is nice to win these tournaments it is not the main aim. The main target is to get these players to first team standards, and playing 1st team football is an important, if not vital, step.

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