It is common knowledge that Arsenal prefer to operate with an inexperienced squad at U21 level, with many players who would ordinarily play for the U18s instead being given an opportunity to test themselves on a bigger stage.
The departures of several members of the U21 squad, which were announced last week, will help to facilitate the process in terms of enabling younger players to play a key part for Steve Gatting’s side.
In addition, some spaces in the side will open up as a consequence of some of the slightly more experienced individuals going on loan. As ever, Arsenal are likely to send several youngsters out on temporary transfer next season, but which players will most probably experience loan spells during the 2015/16 campaign?
One of the most obvious candidates is Alex Iwobi, with the attacker having produced some tremendous performances for the U21s of late, particularly in the second half of last season. A hat-trick against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium, when he was operating as a central striker having previously been used primarily as a winger, outlined Iwobi’s attacking credentials and he could well benefit from a spell with a League One club next season.
Defensive-midfielder Glen Kamara, meanwhile, discussed the possibility of a loan move a couple of months ago, with the youngster stating that he would rather go abroad to ply his trade as opposed to staying in England. A Finland U21 international who was recently called up by his country at senior level, Kamara faces a considerably difficult task to break into the Arsenal first-team, particularly if the club purchase a star player in his position this summer. However, a stint elsewhere, perhaps in the Netherlands as he suggested, would be especially advantageous as far as his development is concerned.
This week Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been strongly linked with a loan move to Championship side Ipswich Town. The Hale End product has already featured in three different competitions for Arsenal’s first-team and just for him to be linked with a loan move to the second tier at the age of 17 provides an indication as to how highly he is regarded. Maitland-Niles spent much of last season operating as a central-midfielder, but, although he had some encouraging performances there, his qualities of pace and power seem better suited to the right wing, and it is in that position that he will hope to receive a significant chunk of senior game time elsewhere next season.
Jon Toral already has one loan spell under his belt, with the technically-talented Spaniard having featured for Brentford last season, although he was primarily used as a substitute at Griffin Park. With a host of more established central-midfielders ahead of him, not to mention the emerging talents of Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem, it is difficult to see at present where Toral fits in to the first-team picture at Arsenal, despite his obvious ability. Another loan spell, therefore, could be a necessary option and would help the club to decide whether to retain him any longer.
Whilst Toral enjoyed some excellent moments at Brentford, another Arsenal youngster, Matt Macey, had a torrid time at League Two team Accrington Stanley last season, with the goalkeeper conceding several goals and his temporary club opting not to extend his stay.
Next season will be pivotal for Macey as, despite the fact that he has already been named on the bench for the first-team in the Premier League, the shot-stopper will be aware that, from the 2016/17 season, he will be classed a senior player and therefore would have to be named in the club’s 25-man squad. As a result Macey could go on loan once more next season and he will be hoping to enjoy a more fruitful spell this time around as he looks to earn a prolonged stay at Emirates Stadium.