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Arsenal loan watch: Five young players who moved on deadline day

Arsenal are not short of talented young players and the January transfer window is an opportunity to provide players with regular first-team football.

Deadline day was busy in terms of outgoings for the Gunners, with five of their contracted players sent on loan to different EFL clubs. This piece will profile each player and suggest how the deadline day move can benefit them in the short and long-term.

Marquinhos – Aged 19 – Winger

[Credit: Norwich City Media]

Marquinhos is a versatile winger and is highly rated. The young Brazilian joined Arsenal from São Paulo in June 2022 for approximately £3 million. He made 41 appearances for São Paolo, scoring four goals and assisting three.

Marquinhos has made six appearances for the Arsenal first team this season, scoring in the Europa League group stage against FC Zürich in a 2-1 win.

The winger will now join Championship promotion contenders Norwich City on loan until the end of the season. Norwich are under new management after they appointed the former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner in early January.

Wagner has won his opening two league games with an aggressive pressing style, which will suit Marquinhos. This move makes sense for Arsenal as regular first-team football in a competitive league is clearly the next step in Marquinhos’ development.

Rating: 9/10 – When players are choosing their next loan move, the style of play is always a key consideration. Norwich’s free flowing brand of football under the guidance of Wagner who is vastly experienced represents a smart move for Marquinhos. He could be an integral part of Norwich’s promotion ambitions.

Omar Rekik – Aged 21 – Centre-back

[Credit: Wigan Athletic Media]

Rekik has an impressive youth career, as he played for Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester City and Marseille in his early years. He joined Hertha Berlin in 2017, where he stayed for four years before moving to Arsenal.

Rekik has been on loan at Sparta Rotterdam this season, but has struggled for minutes and has only played seven games.

As a result, the young Tunisian centre-back was recalled by Arsenal and on deadline day he moved to Championship side Wigan Athletic until the end of the season.

When the centre-back joined the club 18 months ago, there was optimism about him and his potential future in the Arsenal backline.

The importance of this move to Wigan will be pivotal to Rekik’s career and he will need to be able to adjust quickly as the Latics are currently bottom of the league and recently appointed their third manager of the season.

Rating: 4/10 – The position of Wigan in the table, alongside the uncertainty off the pitch is not an easy environment for an incoming loanee. Given Rekik has struggled for minutes and form this season, Wigan doesn’t seem like the right fit. However, if he can find form and prove himself at Championship level to keep Wigan up then it will have been a masterstroke by both parties. Only time will tell.

Nathan Butler-Oyedeji – Aged 20 – Striker

Butler-Oyedeji has moved on loan to Accrington Stanley until the end of the season. The young Arsenal centre-forward is making his first loan move and has impressed in both the Premier League 2 and the Papa Johns Trophy this season.

Butler-Oyedeji has made 14 appearances in the Premier League 2 this season, scoring two goals, and has also scored four goals in four games in the Papa Johns Trophy.

Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman told BBC Sport: “The fact he has scored goals in the Papa Johns Trophy against league teams is one of the reasons he came to our attention.”

Rating: 7/10 – Accrington currently sit in the relegation zone in League One and have struggled for goals all season. Butler-Oyedeji is capable in front of a goal and Accrington under Coleman are well known for their hard-work ethic within the squad that has been assembled on a shoestring budget.

With the supportive environment of players and the fans, alongside the likelihood that he will start most of the games, Butler-Oyedeji can be confident that Accrington is the right move for him.

Taylor Foran – Aged 21 – Centre-back

Foran has moved to League Two strugglers Hartlepool United, which is also the first loan move of his career.

The centre-back has made 16 appearances this season for Arsenal U21’s in both the Premier League 2 and Papa Johns Trophy.

Foran joined Arsenal in 2012 and is known for his leadership skills and ability to read the game. A loan move to a struggling outfit will be a key stage in his development.

Chances at Arsenal will be limited given the recent success of the first team and the depth of centre-backs, which increases the importance of this loan spell for players such as Foran.

He told the Hartlepool Mail: “Your first loan spell is always a big one and I’m excited to get started in blue and white.”

“There are some great players in this group, and I can’t wait to get involved.”

Rating: 5/10: Hartlepool is another team in a relegation battle, which can lend itself to a toxic club environment on and off the pitch. Keith Curle is an experienced League Two manager who can help adapt Foran to the physicality of the league and also help him adjust to the psychological demands of senior football. Given that Foran is now 21 and this is his first loan, League Two is perhaps below the level he would have preferred. Therefore, this move can only register a rating of five.

Tom Smith – Aged 21 – Goalkeeper

[Credit: Colchester United Media]

Smith has moved on loan to Colchester United, who play in League Two, which is the first EFL loan of his career. The young goalkeeper has previously had spells at Salisbury, Dover Athletic, Welling Town and, most recently, Bromley in the Non-League.

He made 13 appearances for Bromley in the National League this season, getting three clean sheets in the process.

Smith joined the Arsenal academy at the age of eight and signed his first professional contract in December 2019. However, he has struggled with injuries since 2019, which has hindered his development.

Rating: 8/10 – Moving to the EFL on loan for the first time is hugely positive for Smith. If he can stay fit and help Colchester maintain their League Two status, then this can prove to be a beneficial move. Smith can also benefit from Matt Bloomfield, the Colchester manager, who is only 38 and in the early stages of his coaching career. Bloomfield is keen on providing young players with opportunities and creating a culture in which they can thrive.

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