There are some loan spells embarked upon by Arsenal players which reap great rewards- Jack Wilshere’s stint with Bolton Wanderers and Wojciech Szczesny’s season at Brentford immediately spring to mind. For others, though, spells away from the club can bring many difficulties for the player concerned, particularly when they struggle to gain a regular place in the starting line-up.
That predicament is what befell Benik Afobe at Bolton Wanderers, with the striker scoring three goals and making 16 league appearances, the vast majority of them as a substitute, before his time at the Reebok Stadium was cut short by Arsenal last week. He has subsequently joined fellow Championship side Millwall on a temporary basis until the end of the season and, given his lack of progression during his previous stints with Bolton and Reading, the 19 year old is fully aware that this latest loan could prove decisive with regards to whether he receives any first-team opportunities at Emirates Stadium.
It is worth reflecting on Afobe’s backstory to see just why he carried so much expectation with him as he progressed through the ranks at the club’s Hale End Academy. Forging what at times seemed an almost telepathic partnership with close friend Chuks Aneke, Afobe scored a remarkable 40 goals in one season for the U16s in 2007/08 and transferred that clinical nature in front of goal onto the U18 stage whilst still a schoolboy, scoring on his debut against Fulham and contributing many more goals besides as Arsenal won the Premier Academy League title in 2009/10.
He then stepped up to what was then the Reserves before impressing on loan at Huddersfield Town when, aged just 17, he scored five times for the Terriers as he underlined his vast potential. Since then, however, it has not exactly been plain sailing for the player, who made his England U21 debut recently.
Last season he was dogged by injury for much of the campaign before featuring just three times for Reading during a short loan spell at the Madejski Stadium. He then struggled to make an impression during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia and was subsequently farmed out to Bolton where, as documented, he endured a frustrating time, failing to live up to the level of expectation that had preceded him.
One concern with Afobe is that, it seems, the higher the level that he plays at, the fewer goals he scores. That was, perhaps, to be expected to a certain extent, but he often finds it difficult to find space against more physical opponents, whilst a greater concern is his tendency to go through some matches without so much posing a threat to the opposition goal. His situation certainly, however, underlines the mantra that, no matter how impressive a player is at youth level, it is whether they can transfer that talent onto the senior talent that counts.
Afobe, so far, has not managed to do that. At 19, he still has time on his side, but he will be wary that this upcoming stint with Millwall could potentially be decisive as far as his future career is concerned.
Come on fella knuckle down and get on with it we need you in the 1st team at some point 🙂
I wouldnt say we need. Im all for developing young british players. Chuffed to bits all the young brits signed new contracts. If your good enough, your old enough right?!
If he aint good enough, then we should use some of our money to buy a ready made ‘top top player’. If we want to challenge for titles you need players that are good now, which i think Wenger has realised.( Podolski, Cazorla, Mertesacker etc.
….on that point i should add, that i i think we need more : )
some pretty schizophrenic thumbing up and down. have all the hysterical people now decided that we don’t need to sign players just because we beat stoke 1-0 at home with a dodgy deflection?
From what I’ve heard from Bolton fans Afobe was utterly shit and that’s why we got him back. I hope he’ll become an amazing Arsenal centre-forward but I also hope I become an amazing Arsenal centre forward – it aint going to happen.
He really needs to be given the opportunity to shine at Arsenal instead of relying on the whims of managers at other clubs who place zero priority on his development.
We persist with the likes of Gervinho who, when he plays for us, is as inspiring as a pair of wet underpants. We’re crying out for another striker. Perhaps it’s time to give Afobe a shot even if it means 10-15 minutes at the end of a game with the occasional start against weaker opponents.
I agree with u 100%, playing at Arsenal 10mins to the end of games that have already been won(maybe when we are leading by 5 – 0), would do them a lotta good. And it will give them a lot of confidence.
You might not believe it, but Gervinho actually has a proven track record of achievements from Ligue 1 and therefore a good case of why he needs to be given a chance. So it’s comparing apples (Gervinho) to oranges (our youth players) really.
how many chances has he had an done nothing? when do you draw the line. in afobes case he has been trained the arsenal way then sent to bolton lol great
“an occasional start against weaker opponents”
Yes I agree, let’s give a player who couldn’t get into a championship side and was atrocious when he did the right to lead our line in just the sort of matches that we’ve really struggled to win this season.
He was pants at Bolton. He will never make it to the EPL. Baaaad attitude, lazy and ridiculously football unintelligent. Always the wrong solution.
He will end up in league 1 or lower later in his career.
Wilshere though: What a gem!
Hopefully the bad experiences at Bolton and Reading will be the catalyst for some serious learning. The lad is 19! We can’t make a definitive judgment yet.
Still though, it’s a pity he couldn’t have trained a few weeks with Henry and Arsenal’s other quality players before hitting the road again.
It feels to me that Afobe might be a victim (or benefactor) of a common curse: growing physically large compared to peers in your age group.
Many a youth player have shone when everyone else were relatively less physically imposing, only to falter as everyone else caught up.
You lot are deluded and so hypocritical it pisses me off. On one hand you say “why arent we competing, we dont win anything”, in the next breath your saying “we want afobe, and unproven young player”. What has Afobe done to warrant more game time?! Do me a favour. With the position we are in. Game time for youth is last priority. We want top 4? Need proven players. Simple as!
There are other competitions beside the league. I, for one, don’t give two shits about the league cup.
I, for one agree but we’re in the minority these days.
@Argonaut. I know this is a forum and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but read your comments back. Im pretty sure you have many times criticised Arsene, Arsenals transfer ways and Gervinho. I have to tbh. But playing the likes of Afobe even Eisfeld is just not feasible at this time. Even if he position were in is Arsenes fault through underinvestment. He youth team will not get us top 4 this season.
Cream rises to the top. If he cant shine in championship this season, he wont in the Prem this season either.
Turds also float and we have a few of them floating around at the moment who we should flush down the crapper.
This is a young talent that everyone has written off already so why dont we get behind these young guys for once.
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Because El Dave this isnt a fucking ‘come and have a go’ time to be fucking about. Are you a Man City fan or do you always talk utter shit. Im not writing him off. Just now isnt the time for trials in the premier league. Hes had a chance in championship, and hes got another at Millwall who are puching for promotion. A good standard of football and a platform to convince everyone hes ready. If not….bye bye. Hope you have a good career.
against spurs a couple years ago henry lansbury put in a better shift than i have seen from gervinho, why didnt he get another chance? as for afobe bolton never even played him at centre forward. he was used wide. lets be honest arsene dont give youth a chance unless he is forced by sales and injurys. carlos vela scores an amazing hattric hattrick one week in the CC he has to wait 6 weeks for a 5 minute stint on the wing for his next opportunity. the facts is the players we buy are the weaknesses at arsenal the… Read more »
the only thing that can develope a player is regular playing time in the correct position. we loan players out with high hopes for them and they are sometimes never seen again, is our scoutin network that bad or are we wasting our time with these shitty loans to clubs who just have no money and need back up/utility in the squads
the joke of it is we have even bought in other peoples reserve players, who have done nothing and been injured at the time we signed them(aumery bischoff) and given them more chances than we have given to players who have done more and love the club. its just a shame we can wait 5 years for someone like flamini to develope with plenty chances (yes he was fuckin division 3 levels when we signed him) and denilson even got 200 appearances (yes he got bossed by a 40 year old playing for leyton orient) yet we arguin about a… Read more »
just thought id pop back and add ox chamberlain to the list of players gettin chances when they dont deserve them at all.