The 2019/20 season went superbly for Zak Swanson, with the right-back being referred to by then U23s boss Steve Bould as one of the club’s standout performers at that level.
This season, however, has been one of much frustration for the hard-working prospect.
Swanson was sent on loan to Dutch side MVV Maastricht, which appeared a rather unusual choice of destination despite Arsenal having previously sent players there. While many of Swanson’s Arsenal colleagues were adapting to senior football in League One or League Two, he found himself in a different country and having to learn very quickly.
Matters certainly didn’t go to plan for Swanson as he was restricted to just three appearances for Maastricht before being recalled early from his loan spell.
The youngster’s frustration was compounded by the fact that he suffered a serious injury which meant that he wasn’t able to play at all in the remainder of the campaign and couldn’t go on loan in January.
Now closing in on a return to full fitness, Swanson is looking to make up for lost time. The 20-year-old is set to be loaned out again next season, with an English club the most likely destination this time.
Swanson will be hoping for better luck on the injury front and he can draw inspiration from Daniel Ballard, whose spell with Swindon Town ended abruptly before he bounced back in superb style this season to help Blackpool earn promotion from the Championship.
One concern for Swanson is that there is a danger that he could eventually be overtaken by some of the other young right-backs on the production line, with Daniel Oyegoke, Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Ryan Alebiosu having made good progress.
For now, though, Swanson just needs to focus on his own development and hope that he can get a regular run of games out on loan.