With one match remaining and Arteta already fielding questions on his loanees, ahead of the summer, it seems a logical time to offer a considered view on those still under contract, yet not with us at present.
No better, place to start than with Willock, who’s headline grabbing displays for Newcastle have had a large part to play in Steve Bruce, steering his side to safety. The box-to-box midfielder has scored on 7 occasions, and in the process became the youngest player since Michael Owen, 20 years ago to scored in 5 successive matches. Give the scarcity of goals from Arsenal midfield, this his knack of arriving late in the right place, cannot have escaped Arteta’s attention. This loan has been a wise decision by the club, as they have been able to watch the talented player in a 433 formation, that we do not utilise currently but may in the future. It may be forgotten that in a disrupted 2019/20, under Emery and Arteta Willock featured in more matches than any other player and unless the Newcastle offer is irresistible, he is a keeper for me.
The erratic Frenchman, fell out with his Arsenal manager at the tail end of last season and despite a good season in the Bundesliga, where he has been a regular starter. However, for a box-to-box midfielder, which he professes to be in 24 league appearances for Hertha Berlin, 2 goals and 3 assists is not screaming ‘take me back Arteta.’ Particularly when you compare it to the output of the player discussed above. Marseilles seem interested and whilst I still believe he has a high ceiling, with only a year left on his Arsenal contract, now is the time to cash in.
He has played regularly in his preferred role of central midfield at WBA and done quite well. However, I am not convinced he has shown anyone he can play there regularly for Arsenal. In his absence, Calum Chambers has also pressed strong claims at right back so that route, one AMN was not keen on may be closed to him too. Whilst the player may not have accepted it, he shone for Arsenal as a wingback and got his chance for England in that role, so a club, such as Wolves, who consistent play 3 at the back may be his best route. Either way, while his stock is high, I hope Arsenal cash in while he has 2 years left on his deal.
After a strange, indeed awkward first two years as an Arsenal player, in which he has not pulled on a first team shirt, Arteta has confirmed the talented French centre back will be back to fight for playing time in 2021/22. He has played consistently and by all accounts very well for Nice since January, but Ligue 1 has a slower pace to the Premier League. Many Arsenal fans are desperate to see him paired with Gabriel next season and whilst I think we will indeed see that I am not convinced Saliba is automatically our right central defender as Holding has improved beyond all recognition.
Mavropanos, since returning from injury in November has played very well for Stuttgart, making a step up in division, in his second loan in Germany. Given the investment made in Saliba, the long-term contract and recent captaincy bestowed on Holding and the return to prominence of Chambers, I think the Greek may be the unlucky one. Selling him for a good price, as he has 2 years left on his contract, should not be an issue.
The Bosnian has been popular with fans and in the squad, but with only a year left Arsenal will need to work hard to secure a fee sadly. Schalke where he was a popular figure and showed his best for before he joined Arsenal and where he has spent part of this year on loan, have been relegated so I suspect that avenue is closed. Arteta want a new Tierney understudy, and has declared that so I think we might be Sokratis territory here, writing off the final year of Kola’s deal.
It simply has not worked out the way we all anticipated for the popular Uruguayan in Madrid. Simeone’s style at Atletico seemed, on paper at least, made for Torreira, but he has failed to secure a regular starting berth, with many of his La Liga minutes being off the bench. Sadly, for the player, there is no way back for him at Arsenal, and the question now seems to be where and how much of a loss the club make, particularly as the player seems set on a return to South America.
An interesting summer ahead for Edu I suspect but certainly the loan system has been well used by the club, and in some cases, players have proved they are worth a shot again in North London or enhanced their value.
This is the full unedited version of my Sun Fan column.
Passionate 50+ ST holder who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since. He set up up his own site 1 Nil Down 2 One Up which he has now sold and since the summer of 2013 with a friend he launched a new project to offer new and aspiring Arsenal writers a home. Gunners Town is that platform and Dave writes here too. He is also the author of 2 Arsenal related books.