Bar the high-profile signing of Thierry Henry, there has been very little transfer activity with regards to the first-team squad since the opening of the January transfer window, but, at reserve and youth level, the turn of the year marks an important milestone in the development of several young players at the club as they begin to sample the professional game.
Two members of the first-team in Emmanuel Frimpong and Vito Mannone have gone out on loan, to Wolves and Hull respectively, and several of their former Reserve colleagues are likely to join them in gaining vital experience of competitive football over the next few months.
One such player is Sead Hajrovic. The 18 year old Swiss defender, who can operate at right-back or centre-back, has established himself as a regular member of the Reserves side over the past couple of seasons and has today joined League Two side Barnet on an initial one-month’s loan. Hajrovic, who is some way off the first-team picture at Arsenal, will surely benefit greatly from the experience and was one of several young Gunners who were watched by an abundance of scouts during last week’s Reserve League encounter with Aston Villa.
Some loan moves don’t materialise quite as had been anticipated, however, with striker Sanchez Watt having returned to the club this week after failing to establish himself during a stint at Sheffield Wednesday. Watt, who has previously spent time with Southend and Leeds, only mustered a handful of appearances for the Owls and returned to London Colney after question marks were raised over his physicality.
In contrast, Luke Freeman has earned a permanent move to Stevenage following an impressive loan spell with the League One side, and found the net twice for the Borough in his first game since sealing the transfer. Signed from Gillingham amid much publicity four years ago, Freeman impressed for the Reserves with his work ethic, but was ultimately unable to impose himself on the first-team picture.
Chuks Aneke hasn’t quite managed to have the same impact as Freeman at Stevenage, with a decision on the promising midfielder’s time with the League One side to be made once his initial loan expires in four days’ time.
Out in Spain, Wellington saw his abysmal spell with Levante curtailed, with the Brazilian subsequently dropping down a division to join Alcoyano. Wellington made just two substitute appearances in nearly a year at Levante, and will be hopeful of receiving significantly more game time at his new club.
Further players could be set for loans in coming weeks. Ryo may yet make a temporary move elsewhere before the transfer window closes, whilst the likes of James Shea, Gavin Hoyte, Daniel Boateng, Craig Eastmond and Rhys Murphy are all in need of regular game time. Benik Afobe, meanwhile, has attracted interest from a whole host of clubs, including a Premier League side, but is still around a fortnight away from fitness having missed much of the campaign through injury.