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.