Prior to this season, despite being 24 years old, Deyan Iliev didn’t possess any experience of first-team football.
The goalkeeper had been named on the bench for the Arsenal first-team on a couple of occasions, including for the Europa League final defeat to Chelsea, but had been restricted to youth football in terms of playing action, with an injury that kept him out for around two years having hampered his progress.
This season Iliev was sent out on loan to Sered of the Slovakian first division, where he has been the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.
There were some initial teething problems for Iliev as he conceded many goals in his opening appearances and struggled to keep a clean sheet. However, of late there have been some significant signs of improvement, with Iliev making some impressive saves and registering several shutouts.
Iliev is frequently called up by Macedonia at senior level, but he has yet to be capped.
It is at club level where the uncertainty over his future remains, however, as by the time he returns to Arsenal next year Iliev will be 25, meaning he surely won’t go back to playing for the Gunners at U23 level.
Matt Macey is currently Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper but hasn’t played at all this season for the first-team and has only made the bench in the Carabao Cup.
Iliev, therefore, faces a difficult task in attempting to see any action at all for Arsenal at senior level, and it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if he was to depart permanently next summer.
For now, he is developing well at Sered and making the most of his regular game time.