A couple of years ago Arsenal embarked upon a policy of signing youngsters who had been released by other clubs, with George Lewis, Jonathan Dinzeyi and Tim Akinola among the players who ended up at London Colney.
While Lewis and Dinzeyi are likely to be released when their contracts expire this summer, Arsenal intend to keep Akinola, with the former Huddersfield and Lincoln midfielder having developed well.
During his first season at the club Akinola was a mainstay for the U23s and his performance levels often fluctuated between being excellent and erratic.
At times Akinola appeared to lack discipline, while he seemed to be a level below his team-mates technically.
This season, however, there was a significant improvement in Akinola’s game as he played with greater authority and made better decisions.
That progress led to Akinola being loaned out for the first time in January as he headed to Dundee United.
Matters certainly haven’t gone to plan so far for Akinola in Scotland – he was taken off at half time on his debut against St. Johnstone and hasn’t featured since, even being left out of the squad on some occasions.
All is not lost for Akinola. Arsenal still have faith in him and he could be involved with the first-team in pre-season having already featured for Mikel Arteta’s side in a behind closed doors friendly.
For now Akinola will hope to end his frustrating spell at Dundee United on a positive note. All he can do is work hard in training and attempt to get some playing time, but it is not an entirely wasted experience as he is still sampling what it is like being in a different environment.
The 20-year-old could go on loan again next season and his temporary club will have to be chosen carefully – it would perhaps be preferable for him to remain in England this time.
Akinola is currently going through a difficult stage and breaking into the first-team squad at Arsenal will be a major challenge, but he will be determined to overcome this situation and seize his opportunity the next time he is afforded one.