Loan Watch season review

Loan Watch Special

By Lloyd Webb

Every season a number of Arsenal players go out on loan to gain valuable first-team experience.

This year, a total of 15 Gunners left the club for the 2015/16 season. Find out below how they performed.   


Jon Toral Birmingham CityJon ToralBirmingham City (Championship)Appearances: 27+10Goals: 8League position: 9thFollowing on from an encouraging loan spell with Brentford last year, Jon spent the season with Birmingham City - and made an instant impact, scoring twice in his first two games against Reading and Burnley. The cultured midfielder quickly established himself as a first-team regular, adding six more goals to his haul after 38 appearances. The 21-year–old was recognised at the club’s end-of-season awards where he was named Supporters' Player of the Season, Players' Player of the Season and won the Goal of the Season award for an exceptional volley against Ipswich Town. 


Looking back on his time with Birmingham, Toral said: “I think I have progressed a lot this season. That’s what you’re looking for when you go out on loan - to get some experience of football at a high level. I have enjoyed it ever so much, every training session, every game. It has been a good season and I just wanted to thank everyone for making it such a brilliant experience.”

Brian Dick, Birmingham City correspondent for Birmingham Mail, said: “He has done brilliantly. He won three awards in total, and I think that is a fair assessment of how important he was to Birmingham. He was our most gifted player in terms of technical ability. When you watch him play, it is quite easy to forget he is 21 years old and he is still learning his way. He exceeded everyone’s expectations, he has been superb this season. It has been a really, really good season for him."


Jon Toral

Jon Toral



Ainsley Maitland-Niles Ipswich Town


Ainsley Maitland-NilesIpswich Town (Championship)Appearances: 23+9Goals: 2League position: 8thAinsley has had an encouraging first full season of senior football and scored twice during his spell with the Tractor Boys, the second being a memorable effort from outside the box against Portsmouth. Ipswich finished higher than expected last season and built on that this campaign, missing out on a play-off place by five points and finishing in seventh position.

Chief football writer for the Ipswich Star Stuart Watson said: “It has been a mixed first year in senior football for Ainsley. He burst on to the scene and shined - he was very impressive in the first month of the season. He looked like he had an old head on young shoulders. As the season wore on, he was in and out of the side. Mick McCarthy said it was a lot to handle for a 17-year-old and that he would handle him with care. He will be undoubtedly better for the experience I’m sure.”  


Chuba Akpom Hull City Chuba AkpomHull City (Championship)Appearances: 22+18Goals: 7League position: 4thFollowing previous loan spells at Brentford, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest, Chuba joined Championship promotion hopefuls Hull City for the season. The striker was on target seven times, most notably scoring his first senior hat-trick against Bury in the FA Cup. The Hale End product’s fine form earned him an England Under-21 debut, which he marked with a goal against Kazakhstan and he played his part as the Tigers reached the play-off final.


Speaking about his experience, Akpom said: “There is a lot of pressure to win and there has been pressure as you come from one of the best clubs in the world. The boss is always watching us, and scouts are always watching us so it was my chance to show people what I can do.” 



Isaac Hayden Hull City Isaac HaydenHull City (Championship)Appearances: 14+10Goals: 1League position: 4thIsaac has been used in both midfield and in central defence for the Tigers during a memorable year, as he not only scored his first senior goal during a 6-0 thrashing of Charlton, but also received his first call-up to the England Under-21s squad in March. Hull secured their play-off place with a fourth-placed finish, and reached the final by beating Derby County 3-2 on aggregate. 


Speaking about his experience under Steve Bruce, Hayden said: “What I noticed in the Championship, if you pass backwards it is almost as if you have given the ball away. You have to make an impression on the pitch and as a person as well.”


Isaac Hayden

Isaac Hayden



Emiliano Martinez Hull City


Emiliano MartinezWolves (Championship)Appearances: 15+0League position: 14thEmiliano spent the season at Wolves and kept an impressive five clean sheets in 15 appearances, until a thigh injury in November ruled him out of action. After his recovery, the goalkeeper has had to make do as Carlos Ikeme’s understudy. Despite an encouraging start to the season, a poor run of seven games without a win in January and February condemned Wolves to a 14th-placed finish.

Ryan Leister, blogger for the Birmingham Mail, said: "He is a very good shotstopper. He had a tough start, and had a bit of a reaction from fans when he first came into the team because our regular goalkeeper, Carlos Ikeme, was dropped and Martinez came straight in. He got injured and lost his place in the team and never got it back. When he found his feet, in that run of games he did well. I think it was good for him to get some first-team football.”  


Wellington Silva Bolton WanderersWellington SilvaBolton Wanderers (Championship)Appearances: 17+8Goals: 2League position: 24thIn his seventh loan spell since joining the Gunners in 2010, Wellington spent his first season in England with Bolton Wanderers - but could not prevent the Trotters from being relegated. The Brazilian was mainly used as an impact substitute, but did hit the target twice, including the first goal of his career with his head against Wolves.


The winger also had to deal with a hamstring injury that ruled him out for 10 weeks. It was a season to forget for Bolton fans, as they finished bottom of the league in 24th position with just 30 points.


Wenger on Wellington Silva

Chief football writer at Bolton News Marc Iles said: “He has been up and down. You have to take into consideration his age and experience in English football and that he has been playing in a struggling Bolton team. It has not been easy. There have been times where you have seen his undoubted ability.

"He is a really nice lad as well, and has integrated nicely and proven quite popular with the fans. He has been used quite a lot as an impact player and certainly has something about him.

"He has on occasions lit the place up, but he has been used a lot off the bench.” 


Yaya Sanogo Charlton AthleticYaya SanogoCharlton Athletic (Championship)Appearances: 4+4Goals: 3League position: 23rdYaya spent the first half of the season at Ajax, where he played in the Europa League and Eredivise, before returning to London in January to move to Charlton on loan - but he could not save the Addicks from relegation. He did however score a hat-trick in the 4-3 defeat to Reading.


Charlton commentator Greg Stubley said: “He joined Charlton at an unfortunate time. What I did see was that he had good off-the-ball movement and he certainly has something about him. He creates space for others, his link-up play is decent and he is well liked by his peers. He had a few games where, although he didn’t get scoresheet, he was creating opportunities and getting in the right places.” 


Carl Jenkinson scores for West Ham

Carl Jenkinson scores for West Ham



Carl Jenkinson West Ham UnitedCarl Jenkinson West Ham United (Premier League)Appearances: 16+7Goals: 2League position: 7thCarl Jenkinson returned to West Ham for a second time after an encouraging loan spell at Upton Park last season. The defender featured 20 times for the Hammers, before a cruciate knee ligament injury cut short his campaign. The 24-year-old scored twice in two consecutive matches against Sunderland and Crystal Palace in October and impressed for Slaven Bilic’s side. 


Speaking to Arsenal.com, Jenkinson said: “I played a lot of football again this season. Loan spells are what that is all about. I’m fortunate in the last few seasons to do that in the Premier League and play a lot of football. It has been a really positive experience for me and I have learnt a lot about myself as a player and what makes me tick. I have really enjoyed my last two years at West Ham and I think I have come on a lot as a player. I scored a couple of goals this season which was also nice.” 


Serge Gnabry West BromSerge GnabryWest Brom (Premier League)Appearances: 2+1Goals: 0Last match: Norwich 3-0 West BromLeague position: 14thSerge spent the first half of the season on loan at West Brom and after featuring three times, returned to the Gunners. Speaking to Arsenal.com following his experience, the midfielder said: “I’m getting back to fitness, I didn’t really get a chance at West Brom. It was a bit different training at West Brom compared to Arsenal, but they have good players.”   



Wojciech Szczesny AS RomaWojciech Szczesny AS Roma (Serie A)Appearances: 41+0Goals: 0League position: 3rdWojciech has been in fine form during his year in the Italian capital, keeping eight clean sheets and being first-choice goalkeeper under two different managers, Rudi Garcia and Luciano Spalletti. The Poland international’s finest moment for the Giallorossi was shutting out local rivals Lazio in a 2-0 derby win. 


James Horncastle, Italian football correspondent for BT Sport, said: “He is a popular character in the dressing room, where he has got on with the players. I remember he made a big, big save on his debut against Verona. There was a lot of attention on Szczesny because he was a goalkeeper who had obvious talent, although he has had his ups and downs in Rome. He has been really open and engaging with the media and he goes on their radio show. It has been a positive experience for him and for Roma."  


Mathieu Debuchy BordeauxMathieu Debuchy Bordeaux (Ligue 1)Appearances: 9+0Goals: 0League position: 14thMathieu returned to his native France in January, joining Bordeaux on loan for the remainder of the season. The defender picked up a muscular injury shortly after arriving, but has since recovered to feature seven times and help Les Girondins keep two clean sheets against Nice and Marseille.


French correspondent for BT Sport Julien Laurens said: “He has been quite happy there - it was most important for him to play again. He had an injury in February that left him out for five games, which was a shame because he started really well in a team that were mid-table and struggling at times. Despite all that he has been pretty consistent in all the games he has played. He is not far from his best level now.” 


Gedion Zelalem RangersGedion ZelalemRangers (Scottish Championship)Appearances: 20+6Goals: 0Last match: St. Mirren 2-2 RangersLeague position: 1stGedion won’t forget his first full season in senior football in a hurry. The midfielder helped Rangers win the Scottish Championship, earning them promotion to the Premier League after a four-year absence. Success didn’t stop there for the 19-year-old, as he then scored a penalty during a tense shoot-out with local rivals Celtic to book the Gers’ place in the Scottish Cup final, where they were beaten 3-2 by Hibs.  



Wenger on Gedion Zelalem

Christopher Jack, group senior sports writer for the Glasgow Herald and Glasgow Evening Times, said: “He started the season well and played quite a few games. In the second half of the season, he found it harder to get into the team but he also spent a few weeks out with injury at a time when the team really picked up some momentum.

"Overall, his season has been very good. Mark Warburton seems very pleased with him and I think for an 18-year-old, he has handled the expectation and pressure of playing for Rangers.

"He hasn’t scored, and I think it is something he might leave with a little bit of regret about. He is very neat and tidy, moves the ball well and fits in at Rangers perfectly.”  


Glen Kamara Southend UnitedGlen KamaraSouthend UnitedAppearances: 5+1Goals: 0League position: 15thGlen made his return to Southend United in January, having previously played for the League One club’s youth team before joining Arsenal in 2012. The midfielder has made six appearances for the Shrimpers. Southend finished in 15th position, and ended the season in poor form, having won just twice since March.  



Dan Crowley Barnsley Dan Crowley Barnsley (League One)Appearances: 8+5Goals: 1League position: 6thDan got his first taste of senior football, playing for League One side Barnsley. The midfielder was on target once for the Tykes during a 5-3 defeat against Everton in the Capital One Cup, before returning to Arsenal in October. Speaking to Arsenal.com about his loan spell, he said: “It was a good experience - I learnt a lot about myself, a lot about the game and what it is like to be in a first-team environment.” 



Stefan O'ConnorYork CityStefan O’ConnorYork City (League Two)Appearances: 4Goals: 0League position: 24thStefan played four times for York City during a short loan spell at the League Two side. Speaking about to Arsenal.com, he said: “It was a good experience. I was playing with older players and that league is a lot faster and more physical than under-21s. I learnt the physical side of things, while at Arsenal it is more technical. I played in different situations there.”


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