Toral, Zelalem and Crowley seeking to play major part in Arsenal’s pre-season plans


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.

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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.

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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.



  1. Toral deserves a chance as ozil’s backup. Know ppl are saying another season in top flight on loan but Kane, gnabry among others have shown its not that simple. Don’t mind getting another striker and dm but we shouldn’t ignore the academy players. Especially in the attacking midfielders and wingers department ( great strikers too but aren’t old enough yet).

    Think zelalem will make it tbh but he’s not ready yet. Know he wasn’t a resounding success but for some reason his errr…YouTube highlights (I know I know) encouraged me. Another season and he should get a crack to prove himself.

  2. maybe the mindset of doing one loan and breaking into the first team at 18 OR YOU’RE A FAILURE is not working…look at the players who only emerged at age 21,22,23,24,25…KANE, RIBERY, COSTA

    All these guys should stay out on various loans until 23, learning and growing

  3. Zelalem and Crowley definitely don’t look ready to me. The problem is, as Crowley found, the lower leagues are not exactly the perfect training grounds for this type of player. I think we should be looking to get our loanees over to the Belgium league, Dutch league, even the French league – especially the English lads.

    As for Toral, I think he has earnt a pre season chance. With Welbeck and Ox out there is certainly room – and need – for a squad exempt player or two. There will be a lot of competition with Iwobi, Gnabry, Jeff, Chris Willock all previously involved.

    As always, summer transfers will dictate things – we could even lose some – Campbell and Walcott. But the Copa and Euros ensure pre-season will be a chance for a few kids.

  4. Let’s not forget Toral was educated at La Masia, so can play even deeper as a DM or deep lying playmaker.

    Jorge, what are Wellington Silva’s chances? On one hand, not a great loan (injury and it was a poor choice of club as even the caretaker manager admitted they don’t play to his style). On the other, he’ll be competing against Ox, who’s 1 goal and no assist all season isn’t exactly a difficult bar to exceed (though that still didn’t help Joel Campbell).

    1. I really do believe Wellington Silva isn’t as bad as people make out he is. I’d like to see him and WIllock fighting for the LWF role in pre-season and see who wins. Wellington has ‘tekkers’ for days and could be a real handful given a chance. He’s naturally quite small (like Willock) so needs to go on those protein shakes over summer. Gnabry went a bit too far on the muscle gainer as he developed so they have to strike the right balance.

      1. Squad rules always make it more difficult for young players once they go past the exempt age. Wellington is 23 now, making it harder for him. Also in that boat for next season are Matt Macey and Emiliano Martinez (one likely to be 3rd choice I would guess), and Yaya Sanogo (is Wenger ready to cut his losses?)
        We do very rarely (i doubt ever) fill the 25 man squad though, and Welbecks injury should mean a spare space for the first half of the season that a Silva could take.

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