The 2021/22 season is slowly approaching the end for Arsenal, but for some players out on loan the campaign has already concluded and they are now waiting to see whether they’ll be part of Mikel Arteta’s plans for pre-season and beyond.
What started out as a 17-man strong loan army when the summer transfer window closed at the end of August, increased to 23 with all the movement Gunners manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu oversaw during the January window and football.
London have taken a look at how each fared over the weekend.
Of the 23, five have been gaining experience in League One and with the division wrapping up – in terms of the regular season ahead of the play-offs – the quartet of Jordi Osei-Tutu , Ryan Alebiosu , Matt Smith and Brooke Norton-Cuffy are now all free to return to Arsenal.
Osei-Tutu can report back to London Colney in good spirits after helping Rotherham United clinch automatic promotion, although they narrowly missed out on the title, but for Albeiosu – who missed the final few games of the season after undergoing surgery – and Smith it was the agony of relegation with Crewe Alexandra and Doncaster Rovers, respectively.
Norton-Cuffy certainly impressed during his spell with Lincoln City, helping the Imps to a 17th-place finish and there’s still time for Tyreece John Jules to salvage what has been a miserable loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
Having made just one appearance since joining the club in January, it was thought that the striker’s campaign was over because of injury.
With the Owls sealing a play-off place, that could serve as a lifeline for the 21-year-old.
Elsewhere across the EFL, Folarin Balogun’s Middlesbrough need results to go their way on the final weekend of the Championship season to secure a play-off spot, while the same applies for Daniel Ballard’s Millwall, but Karl Hein’s campaign has been over since February as a finger injury prevented him from playing a key role in Reading’s ultimately successful survival bid.
In Scotland, Tim Akinola remains sidelined and is not expected to feature for Dundee United again this season, whilst Harry Clarke was deployed in a somewhat unfamiliar right-wing back role as Hibernian were beaten 1-0 by Livingston on Saturday.
A hamstring injury saw Nikolaj Moller miss Den Bosch’s 1-0 win over Roda JC, it was unlucky number 13 for Jordan McEneff as his latest Shelbourne appearance ended in a 1-0 defeat against Finn Harps and Auston Trusty was on the winning side as Colorado Rapids beat Portland 2-0 in the MLS. Arguably the biggest winner of the Arsenal loan army over the past week is Reiss Nelson.
Three days after shading a mini-reunion with William Saliba and Matteo Guendouzi in the Europa Conference League semi-final, he sent Arteta and Edu another timely reminder by scoring and providing an assist in Feyenoord’s 3-1 win over Fortuna Sittard.
With that said, it hasn’t been a good few days for Saliba and Guendouzi as they featured in the 3-0 home defeat by Lyon and now have a battle on their hands to help Marseille qualify for the Champions League.
As things stand, the Bundesliga outfit are in the relegation play-off zone which means the obligation to buy the defender for €3million in the summer is in doubt.
If they are relegated they will still have the option to sign the Greece international permanently.
Alex Runarsson is another player who can return to Arsenal at any time as Leuven’s season ended last month.
Fresh off helping Real Betis win the Copa del Rey, Hector Bellerin was an unused substitute in the goalless draw with Getafe.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari and Lucas Torreira all failed to taste victory with Roma, Udinese and Fiorentina, respectively, with the former lasting 58 minutes on a rare start.