Under 23: Arsenal players in need of loan spell in January next year… It is already clear that Folarin Balogun needs to go on loan when the transfer window opens in January, but there are a host of youngsters in Arsenal’s U23 squad who would also benefit from a temporary move elsewhere.
One such player is Zak Swanson. Given that the Hale End product is 21 years old, it is important for him to gain further experience in senior football, and his versatility – he can play as a full-back on either side, at center-back, in midfield, or as a winger – could prove to be very useful. Wherever he heads to, Swanson will hope for a considerably better experience than his spell at MVV Maastricht last season, which was wrecked by injury. Perhaps a switch to an English club may be more beneficial on this occasion.
Like Swanson, James Olayinka was also part of Arsenal’s 2017 scholarship intake and is at the stage where he shouldn’t really be playing U23s football. Olayinka has previously had spells with Northampton Town and Southend United, and another move to a club in League One or League Two could be on the cards. Omar Rekik has been edging closer to featuring for the Arsenal first-team but is likely to have to wait until next season to have a serious attempt at making the breakthrough.
The center-back, who is a senior Tunisia international, has featured prominently for the U23s and has largely been impressive, although he can still make costly errors at times. Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley, who already has Miguel Azeez on loan from Arsenal, has admitted to having scouted Rekik.
Ryan Alebiosu came close to leaving on loan in the summer but his proposed move to Sunderland collapsed late on. Now it seems that the right-back will finally get the chance to test himself in senior football, with League One a possible destination. Midfielder Tim Akinola is another candidate for a loan spell. Following his surprise move to the Gunners in 2020, Akinola initially struggled to adapt, but he has shown signs of improvement this season. League One could be a useful environment for the 20-year-old to showcase his credentials.
Joel Lopez may not end up going on loan until next season, but there is still a possibility he could head out in January if an offer is made. Lopez has looked far more comfortable as a wing-back in a 3-4-2-1 system than when he is deployed as a left-back in a back four. Goalkeeper James Hillson has often provided cover in first-team training sessions, but with Bernd Leno back fit and Karl Hein set to return to action in January, it is possible that Hillson could be loaned out for an experience.
Ben Cottrell, George Lewis, and Jordan McEneff would also benefit from loan spells but all three players have struggled with injury this season and are unlikely to be fully fit when the transfer window opens. Karl Hein is currently recovering from injury but if the Estonia goalkeeper is back available, there is a chance that he could go on loan.