Saturday, June 10, 2023

Arsenal loan watch + future rating

It’s very quiet this morning, but there are internationals later on which will feature some of our players.

All eyes will be on Italy v England later when Bukayo Saka will probably start, and if Gareth Southgate was any good so too would Aaron Ramsdale but chances are he won’t. Jorginho is in the Italy squad too. Ghana and Thomas Partey are also in action when they face Angola. Everything crossed for our lads.

For this morning, it might be an idea to catch up on some of our loan players, and predict what the future might hold for them. Starting with:

Folarin Balogun – Reims

To say he is knocking it out of le parc isn’t quite doing it justice. Reims sit in a very healthy 9th in the Ligue 1 table, and of their 36 goals in the league, our boy has 17 of them, plus 1 in the cup. He is doing everything you would want a young player to do during his loan spell.

Clearly this is an important one for him. It’s a way for to the club to assess his development and readiness to return and fight for a place, and Mikel Arteta has already been very complimentary about what he’s doing this season.

Balogun says:

“It’s really positive that he could say these things. I’m sure, we’ll speak at the end of the season and we’ll have a lot of things to discuss. It’s nice that he’s watching and paying attention to what’s going on.”

Typically there have been all kinds of stories linking him with all kinds of clubs for all kinds of fees, but that’s just an inevitability of a player having a good season and the transfer clickbait media environment that surrounds us.

It doesn’t mean a sale is out of the question. Every player has their price, but as Arsenal look towards a season with Champions League football and the necessary depth required to contend with that, Balogun is doing everything he can to be considered for that. This season has shown us that just two centre-forwards can leave you a bit light, and if we were linked with a 21 year old from France who’d had a goalscoring season like this, we’d be talking a significant transfer fee. Except Balogun is already on a long contract.

Arsenal future rating: 8/10

Nuno Tavares – Marseille

While I still think Kieran Tierney has an important role to play this season, what happens in the summer is more up in the air. I don’t think his departure would be a big surprise, and it would leave Arsenal needing another left-back.

I’ve seen people wondering if Nuno Tavares could be that man. You can never say never in football, but I think this is about as close as you can get. He has some qualities, no question. They are primarily attacking, as his 6 goals for Marseille this season demonstrate.

However, when it comes to defending, he is chaotic, to say the least. There have been stories in the press about how the French side have no interest in making the deal permanent – as they did with Matteo Guendouzi for example – due to concerns about his inconsistency.

Nevertheless, I think he’s shown enough to ensure there should be interest in him during the summer. If someone has the energy to try and harness that attacking verve without exposing his flaws, he could be a decent addition, and at the very least we should recoup what we paid for him two summers ago (£7.5m)

Arsenal future rating: 1/10

Albert Sambi Lokonga – Crystal Palace

It will be interesting to see what Roy Hodgson makes of the Arsenal man as he attempts to guide Palace out of the relegation scrap having taken over from Patrick Vieira. Under the former Arsenal midfielder, Sambi made 7 appearances, and has acquitted himself pretty well.

I asked Dan from HLTCO about him last week, and he was pretty positive about him, and didn’t rule out the possibility of the deal being made permanent. That, of course, will depend on how the rest of the season goes.

The difficulty for the Belgian international is that the Arsenal midfield is a crowded place as it stands. He has to compete with Thomas Partey, Jorginho, Granit Xhaka, and let’s not forget that the club gave an extension to Mohamed Elneny. The big summer signing has been rumoured to be a central midfield player, and when you add the likes of Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe to the mix, it seems like a difficult pathway for him.

Of course Arsenal have to start thinking about the ages of some of those players, and look to the future, but it seems unlikely to me that Lokonga will be high on the list of potential candidates for that.

Arsenal future rating: 3/10

Nicolas Pepe – Nice

He’s got 23 appearances and 7 goals to his name in all competitions for Nice this season, not a bad return, but I think he could have double that goalscoring contribution and it wouldn’t make much difference to how he’s viewed at Arsenal.

We saw what he was capable of from an attacking perspective, albeit in inconsistent fashion. He was capable of fantastic moments. As frustrating at he could be in the final third, I firmly believe it was his inability to grasp what the manager wanted from a defensive perspective that saw him become so peripheral.

The game against Aston Villa last season when he came on late and conceded a dangerous free kick from which Bernd Leno had to make a brilliant save was the moment I think Arteta completely gave him up on him. It was like that moment in The Simpsons when Lisa breaks Ralph’s heart.

That was Arteta on the sideline when Pepe conceded that free kick. I have no idea what kind of fee we might get, a long way off what we paid obviously because he’ll only have 1 year left on his contract. A big test for Edu this summer is how he sells, and this might be a real challenge for him.

Arsenal future rating: 0.00001/10

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Southampton

It feels like he’s been in and out of a Southampton side whose inconsistency is evident by their position in the Premier League. Just 9 starts in the Premier League, across a number of positions in including midfield, right-back, left back, and centre-half might tell you that part of the issue is he hasn’t ever really nailed down that one position. His versatility is useful but also an impediment at times.

I could be wrong, but I also think he’s out of contract this summer, so available on a free (unless we have an option for a year, but even if we did I don’t see the point of taking it up).

Update: Thanks to Allyboy82 on Twitter for pointing out we already extended AMN by one year.

Arsenal future rating: 0/10

Pablo Mari – Monza

20 appearances for him in Serie A this season is impressive when you consider how long he was absent due to the horrific attack he suffered back in back in October. Thankfully he seems to have made a full recovery and is back in action.

With Arsenal having signed Jakub Kiwior from Spezia to understudy Gabriel, that position at left centre-half is now filled up, and there was a suggestion that Monza staving off relegation would spark a clause to make the deal permanent. They currently sit 13th, some distance from the drop, so chances are he’ll remain in Italy.

Arsenal future rating: 0/10

Cedric Soares – Fulham

He has made 4 appearances since his January loan move, for a total of 98 minutes playing time. So it’s not as if he’s tearing it up there. He’s clearly surplus to requirements at Arsenal, but I just have a feeling that the Tomiyasu injury might see him hang on during the summer for a while.

He should go, especially if he wants to play regularly, but I just have a gut feeling he’ll be one of the last out of the door.

Arsenal future rating: 2/10

Right, that’s your lot for this morning. For some Interlull podcast fun, James and I recorded a Waffle over on Patreon – in which we answer questions about anything and everything except Arsenal.

Regular Arsecast tomorrow. Until then.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast