Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Zelalem and Toral set to benefit from Crowley’s loan spell

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.


Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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Third Plebeian

Wait, I thought the big news for today was that a player for France sometimes plays FIFA 16 on his game console? Anyway, I’m interested in knowing a little more about Toral. Is there enough about him that he could realistically play for Arsenal’s first team? If you could compare him to a more well known footballer, or one already at the club, that would be helpful (I don’t need “new Vieira!” or anything like that, but sometimes it’s helpful to get a sense of his style of play from a comparison, especially for someone who watched a total of… Read more »


Toral’s got a damn good chance.
Most similar player I would say, not quite the fit, but a bit of a Rosicky and Ramsey mix.


i agree Stillmatic – my take – Fabregas with pace or a young mikkel arteta with more skill and left footed (im no expert)

Harish P

Really hyped for Toral. Been keeping up to date on him since his move from Barca and I’m so happy to see him improving steadily.

Really glad there’s an opportunity for him still at the club as I genuinely believe he will be a quality future midfielder like how Cazorla and Wilshere have played for us.

Electric scant

Except that Wilshere hasn’t really played for us has he?

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

The two players who have done really well from our academy came from Barcelona There are Bellerin and Toral.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Except Iwobi but you know what I mean.


He’s like Aaron I’d say, but I’d say less athletic and plays at a pace more suited to la liga or serial a, than the premier league,(that’s not a criticism). I’m not sure how he gets into the side, often enough to matter at least.

Cliff Bastin

Toral, Zelalem, Crowley, Iwobi and to a lesser extent, the Jeff and Willock, all play as number 10s.

I call this the Iceman effect.


Three great midfield talents. However, the decision to send Crowley on loan is a good one and I would also expect Zelalem to be heading out on loan. Toral, on the other hand should be given a first-team chance next season. Looked really promising at Birmingham last season and won a couple of awards there too.


Dear Arseblog,

I think it’s time to give Jeorge Bird a dedicated weekly blog post to update us on the youth instead of just the occasional news article. He’s a great writer and I doubt anyone knows more about our kids.



Lord Bendtner

I couldn’t agree more, we all would love more articles about the youngsters.

Dear Arseblog, give Me a cookie


Agreed totally. Youth is what makes Arsenal interesting especially compared to those clubs stockpiling kids. A very intelligent club

Andy Mack

Or you could just look at his blog


Toral has a good chance with the first team and should make the most of it in what looks like wenger’s last season with arsenal. Looks the most likely candidate to make it from the academy in the current crop


you forgot jeff reine-adelaide..

Andy Mack

There are a few that could make it including Toral, but I think he’s more likely to be first purely because he ‘produced’ so regularly at Brum.


I also really enjoy Jeorge’s articles.

Just one minor comment: after reading them, I often find myself googling players to find out their ages (which is obviously particularly relevant for youth players). I dunno if it’s worth giving this information in the articles, e.g. in brackets when players’ names are first introduced?

Andrew Reith

Dear Arsenal fans, Thanks for the loan of Gedion Zelalem last year at Rangers. I, like many Gers fans, was excited to see the young lad play for us especially as he was touted a’s the next ‘Zidane’ by the media. His first few games he looked fantastic, threading balls through tight defences, simple but effective turns to create space for himself and others and a great composure on the ball which influenced the squad. Unfortunately the opposition quickly learned that they had to park two buses to stop Rangers scoring 4,5,6 a game. This is where Zelalem looked lost.… Read more »

Little Mozart

I’m quite excited to see what Toral can do this season.


Two promising loan spells, Toral deserves a chance to stick around the first team for pre-season and league cup games.


Toral would be a very useful squad addition as a replacement for Rosicky. Not like for like, but the ability to play anywhere in the attacking or wide midfield roles could see him appear from the bench a few times this season and play a big role in the domestic cups.

Jamie Vardinho

Heard good things about toral last season and another loan for Zelalem beyond the wall should do him good


Too many white walkers beyond the wa.
Here inWesteros, we call the place beyond the wall Stoke.


Iwobi is gonna play for Nigeria at the olympics i think.. that in addition to the players (ozil wilshere ramsey iwobi) who will probably miss the start of the season means theres a great chance for zelalem, jeff, toral to impress… toral is probably more ready


Great article,
One observation I would make is that Toral has always been ahead of Crowley (in development and in age) so I don’t understand how Dan going on loan helps him.
On the contrary, I think Toral’s return has contributed to Crowley having to leave on loan!!


Crowley needs a better test run outside the safety of the Youth setup to push his potential forward. It seems as it is he’s just not in the running for the first team sheet on match day. He needs a positive loan. Last season didn’t come off, and I can only imagine that leaves a mark.

He’s said himself it will do him some good, so for on pitch confidence at least that is a self fulfilling situation. If he doesn’t say he’s ready, he’s not.

David Hillier's luggage

Interesting pre season in store for Toral. I can see him fulfilling Ramsey’s role during the tour (central midfield/out wide). Given the marketing potential, Zelalem is a shoe in for games in the US, which I don’t necessarily think is the best thing for the lad. Part of me thinks he would have benefited more from an early loan spell to the Championship (similar to Maitland-Niles last year), integrating with teammates and hitting the ground running. On that note, what’s Maitland-Niles’ situation this pre season? Would a loan to a foreign club help him escape the antics of his mother?… Read more »


Mainland Niless had a good season from the little I heard. A cm that can play wide. Interesting talent, and a bit under the radar atm.


He’s the unknown factor right now. Will he be part of the preseason squad? Could do an Iwobi


Man U has signed Baily, Xlatan and Mkhitaryan and we are here discussing cheap stuff. RUBBISH!!! Arsene Wenger is just a clueless old man


This is a post specifically dedicated to our youth players. That’s the writer’s specialty.

What’s your problem with that?


Our needs and needs of Man U are different and we were second on the Log. Man U signing of late had not performed to expectations why worry about that


Toral shooting from range might hinder his progress lol we know Wenger is adverse to such things!!!


What do you care? You just called Toral rubbish.


Methinks Steve-0 is out for an afternoon Troll.


Gonna be an interesting preseason for a lot of our fringe academy players. Quite a few forgotten players too.

Wellington Silva (the one I’m really intrigued to see)
Gnabry (see above)
Plus of course the ongoing developments of Willock, The Jeff and of course Iwobi.

Me thinks some of our own fringe first team players, mainly Theo and Ox, should be worried. That’s 7 prospects vying for their place. Not just 1 or 2, 7. That’s a lot of competition.

I can’t wait.

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