Arsenal have an abundance of central-midfielders on their books, but, with Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere all set to represent their respective countries at Euro 2016 this summer, there could be opportunities for some of the club’s youngsters to impress in pre-season.
Jon Toral, Gedion Zelalem and Dan Crowley all experienced loan spells this season with varying degrees of success.
Toral enjoyed a superb spell with Birmingham City as he delivered some excellent performances for the Championship side and built upon the experience that he gained with Brentford the previous season.
Zelalem, meanwhile, spent the entire campaign with Rangers and impressed in patches as the Scottish side won two trophies. He will return to Arsenal eager to break into the first-team set-up, but Dan Crowley, who had a short stay at Barnsley, has already admitted that he will need to go out on loan again at some point next season.
All three players could have a prominent part to play in Arsenal’s pre-season plans. Toral, at the age of 21, will be especially keen to make an impact as he seeks to prove to Arsene Wenger that he can succeed at the club.
The Spaniard’s cause is helped by the fact that he is capable of operating effectively either as a central midfielder or out wide, and, having spent half a decade developing him following the switch from La Masia, it would be rather disappointing if Arsenal didn’t give Toral a chance to establish himself in the side.
Zelalem and Crowley may not have developed quite as quickly as anticipated, but both players are still encouraging prospects. The latter revealed that Wenger has informed him that he is not yet ready for the physical side of Premier League football, and the same probably applies to Zelalem.
Even so, being involved in the first-team’s preparation fixtures would be of great benefit to the two youngsters and would allow Wenger to assess just how close they are to making the breakthrough.
At present it is difficult to envisage how Wenger is going to keep all of Arsenal’s first-team midfielders happy next season, particularly if Granit Xhaka, as expected, joins the club. Toral, Zelalem and Crowley, though, will be aiming to make the situation even more complicated.