The members of the Arsenal first-team squad that are fit and haven’t been in international action this summer will assemble next week for the commencement of pre-season training, and, as usual, they will be joined by several of the club’s talented youngsters, who, perhaps inspired by Alex Iwobi’s progression, will be seeking to make the breakthrough this campaign.
Dan Crowley, however, will not be amongst them, with the midfielder having instead joined League One side Oxford United on loan for the entirety of the season. The move should be beneficial for Crowley as it will provide him with the opportunity to receive regular playing time at a club that should be more suited to his style of football than Barnsley, where he wasn’t a natural fit last campaign.
From an Arsenal perspective, Crowley’s absence is likely to have a knock-on effect in that it is set to enable two other talented midfielders- Gedion Zelalem and Jon Toral- an opportunity to catch the eye in first-team training during pre-season.
Both Zelalem and Toral spent the 2015/16 campaign elsewhere, with varying success. Zelalem picked up medals and valuable experience in Scotland with Rangers, but, despite demonstrating some tantalising glimpses of his undoubted potential, the prospect wasn’t able to perform consistently.
Toral, meanwhile, enjoyed an excellent campaign with Birmingham City, with the Spaniard thriving in the Championship. Building upon his good season with Brentford in the previous campaign, Toral hit new heights as he showcased his passing range in addition to his ability to shoot from distance.
Toral appears to be closer to the first-team squad than Zelalem at present, but both players are set to receive chances to impress this summer, especially with Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere having been away at Euro 2016.
Given that he is also capable of playing out wide if required, there is a chance that, should he impress sufficiently, Toral could be given a chance to remain with the squad when the season gets underway.
With regards to Zelalem, it is clear that, for all his quality on the ball, the United States youth international still needs to improve in terms of how he performs when not in possession. Nonetheless, a good pre-season would emphasise to Arsene Wenger that Zelalem has a chance to make the step up in due course.
Toral, though, has a good chance of making the step up this summer, with Crowley’s temporary departure having boosted his hopes even further.