Considering that he had been mainly involved with the U18 squad in the preceding campaign, last season can be seen to have gone rather well for Joe Willock.
The energetic midfielder seized his opportunity in pre-season with the first-team and proceeded to make eleven competitive senior appearances, which saw him feature in all four major competitions.
Willock doesn’t turn 19 until later this summer but he will already be thinking ahead regarding the next stage in his development.
Having been part of the title-winning U23 side, Willock has amassed plenty of experience at that level and will now be looking to play more regularly in the competitive game.
Achieving that aim at Arsenal could well prove difficult as, although the club are again in the Europa League, both Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny have signed new contracts recently.
Rather than waiting to play the occasional game for Arsenal, it would perhaps be best for Willock to head out on loan in the forthcoming campaign.
It is true that many of Arsenal’s recent loan moves for youngsters haven’t gone to plan, with many players returning to the club having barely played.
Willock is in a situation, however, where he needs to play regularly and add to his all-round game so that he can be fully equipped to challenge for a place in the first-team at Arsenal.
One option could be to send the Hale End product on loan to a Bundesliga club, where he could fit in well given his technical skills.
Next season is hugely important in Willock’s development as it could be the difference in determining whether he ultimately succeeds at Arsenal or not.
Arsenal have pulled Willock, along with Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson, out of the England squad for the upcoming U19 European Championship so that he can have a full pre-season with the club.
That would suggest that a decision on Willock’s short-term future hasn’t yet been made and Unai Emery will assess the youngster next month before deciding what the plan should be for him.
It is clear, though, that Willock would benefit hugely from a regular run of games and it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if he was to eventually go on loan.