Arsenal are set to finish second in the Premier League but away from the first team there are a number of other Gunners thriving.
Given the wealth of quality across the levels at Arsenal, not everyone has the opportunity to get in Mikel Arteta’s team, even with the Gunners playing in four competitions at the start of the season. So, naturally, the loan market is used.
While some teams get a bad rap for their use of the loan system, the new rules mean they cannot completely take advantage of it, with only eight players over the age of 21 (and non-club-trained) allowed. Nevertheless, Arsenal have a grand total of 29 players currently out on loan.
Not every loan is a successful one, especially when the players are young and need experience or have moved for game time that they weren’t getting at their parent club. But some loan moves work out well for all parties.
So who falls into which category for Arsenal’s current loanees?
The January transfer window saw seven Arsenal players leaving the club on loan for the first time this season, a mixture of youth and senior stars.
- Cedric Soares (Fulham) – To date, he’s only started twice in the Premier League for the Cottagers.
— Cédric Soares (@OficialCedric) February 1, 2023
- Albert Sambi Lokonga (Crystal Palace) – As soon as he joined Lokonga was thrust into Palace’s starting lineup, but Lokonga has been the outside looking in since the arrival of Roy Hodgson.
- Marquinhos (Norwich) – It took a while but the former Sao Paulo forward ended up being a regular fixture in Norwich’s first team.
- Taylor Foran (Hartlepool) – The 19-year-old immediately became a fixture in the League Two side starting in seven consecutive matches but ended their 2022/23 campaign on the bench.
- Kido Taylor-Hart (Derby) – No senior appearance for Taylor-Hart who has regularly turned out for Derby’s U21 team.
- Nathan Butler-Oyedeji (Accrington Stanley) – Has been in and out of Accrington Stanley’s team since temporarily relocating.
- Billy Vigar (Derby) – Similar to Taylor-Hart, the 20-year-old winger has exclusively played Premier League 2 football.
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The next category are those who haven’t quite got the game time, whether that’s due to injuries or just not being in favour at their loan club. Being in this category doesn’t necessarily been it’s the player’s fault, sometimes circumstances just don’t work out.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Southampton) – His 26 games across all competitions for Southampton have brought just 1,718 minutes, with only 13 Premier League starts.
- Mazeed Ogungbo (Crawley) – The 20-year-old has been in and out of the Crawley squad this season due to injury.
- Marcelo Flores (Real Oviedo) – Has had inconsistent playing time in the Spanish second tier, starting just seven of his 13 league appearances.
- Mika Biereth (RJK Waalwijk) – Injuries have restricted him to just 13 appearances across all competitions.
- Miguel Azeez (Ibiza/Wigan) – Played 11 times with the Spanish side before joining Wigan, making two appearances in the Championship.
- Omar Rekik (Sparta Rotterdam/Wigan) – Played just 120 minutes for Sparta, leaving and moving to Wigan.
?️ "For the Wigan fans, I'm here to fight." ??
— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) January 31, 2023
Then we have the players who have been doing pretty well, or at least have been getting consistent game time across the season so far. A couple of these players have also joined new teams in January but had already been performing well for their first team.
- Runar Alex Runarsson (Alanyaspor) – Has conceded 58 goals in 31 games in all competitions for Alanyaspor, with five clean sheets.
- Tom Smith (Colchester/Bromley) – Kept three clean sheets in 13 National League appearances for Bromley before moving to Colchester for the remainder of the season.
- Tim Akinola (Chesterfield) – Has started just 10 of his 26 National League appearances, playing the full 90 minutes eight times.
- Nikolaj Moller (FC Den Bosch) – Has five goals in 24 games across all competitions for the Dutch second-division side.
- Ryan Alebiosu (Kilmarnock) – Fourteen starts in the Scottish Premiership, either at right-back or wing-back.
- Auston Trusty (Birmingham) – Promising signs across the season for Birmingham, though he did score the own goal which knocked them out of the FA Cup.
10. Pablo Mari (Monza)
Pablo Mari has missed a few matches for Monza due to injury, but when he is on the pitch he has done pretty well.
With Mari in the starting XI, Monza have kept seven clean sheets (from 28 matches) in Serie A including home and away against Juventus.
9. Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Coventry/Rotherham)
Brooke Norton-Cuffy joined Coventry City in January before making 21 appearances for his new club, but he spent the first half of the season at Rotherham. There, the 19-year-old was operating as a right-wing-back, but sometimes popped up on the left or on occasion in a back four.
Interestingly, on his debut for Coventry, Norton-Cuffy started in an attack role before switching back to wing-back for the promotion chasers.
8. Tyreece John-Jules (Ipswich)
Tyreece John-Jules was turning into a decent player for Ipswich in the first half of the season, operating across their attacking line before settling on a central striking role. But his progress was cut short at the end of October as he suffered a hamstring injury.
John-Jules had been recovering at Arsenal with a return to Ipswich expected, but that never transpired after he suffered a setback which ruled him out for the rest of this season.
7. Alex Kirk (Ayr United)
The 20-year-old centre-back is on his first loan spell away from Arsenal and is spending it north of the border in Scotland. Although it is the second tier, Kirk helped Ayr United finish second in the Scottish Championship.
Ayr United were first in December but Kirk was absent for three matches, and they lost two of those, which saw them lose some ground in the title race. Since his return, they secured a Premiership play-offs berth though suffered a 3-0 first-leg semi-final loss to Partick Thistle.
6. Arthur Okonkwo (Sturm Graz/Crewe)
Now at Sturm Graz for the second half of the season, Arthur Okonwko had been pretty good in goal for Crewe during his first loan spell. The Englishman kept nine clean sheets in 23 League Two appearances and made 79 saves, with only three goalkeepers making more.
Crewe Alexandra can now officially confirm Arthur Okonkwo has been recalled by Arsenal ahead of a move to SK Sturm Graz.
— Crewe Alexandra (@crewealexfc) January 16, 2023
5. Ovie Ejeheri (SJK Seinajoki/Chelmsford)
Another Arsenal goalkeeper to be thriving, Ovie Ejeheri kept 11 clean sheets in 21 games for Chelmsford and conceded just 15 goals, in a tough National League South. It’s usual for teams to send young goalkeepers to non-league to build their toughness, and it appears to be working, but now Ejeheri will spend the second half of the season in Finland’s first tier.
4. Nicolas Pepe (Nice)
Nicolas Pepe has not enjoyed his time at Arsenal but back in Ligue 1 the Ivorian is re-finding his feet. Starting 17 of his 19 Ligue 1 appearances so far this season, Pepe scored six goals for Nice before a knee injury halted momentum.
3. Nuno Tavares (Marseille)
Marseille are currently third in Ligue 1 and one of the reasons why is their defence, conceding 35 goals. Part of that defence is Nuno Tavares who has played 29 times in Ligue 1 mostly at wing-back but with the odd appearance in a traditional back four.
But Tavares has also chipped in with the goals, scoring six times so far, with only Alexis Sanchez netting more than the defender in Ligue 1 for Marseille.
2. Charlie Patino (Blackpool)
Charlie Patino isn’t a loanee that can be assessed on goals and assists, but he has a home at Blackpool. First of all, the fans love him, as their catchy song shows and the 19-year-old has played 37 times across all competitions.
Patino has also impressed new Blackpool boss Mick McCarthy in just a few games, with the former Ireland manager saying: “He’s a young man and sometimes he doesn’t always get it right.
“He might press and get played past, but in the first half, he lost it in front of us about 20 yards into their half and won it back in the 18-yard box at the other side of the pitch. I said, ‘If you can do that, you’ll do for me’.
“The willingness to do it is great. I’ve loved working with him for the last few days, he’s going to be a very good player.”
1. Folarin Balogun (Reims)
Only three players have scored more Ligue 1 goals than Folarin Balogun, who has netted 19 times across 34 appearances, a feat made even more impressive given Reims are currently sitting 11th in the table.
Some of Balogun’s standout moments include a hat-trick against Lorient and netting a late equaliser to steal two points from PSG.
Balogun’s 19 goals this season have come from 115 shots, with 53 hitting the target, and he also has a league-high xG of 24.21 as well as 18.69 non-penalty xG.