By Dan Critchlow
With the transfer deadline fast approaching, Arsenal made a move to sign Douglas Luiz from Aston Villa. But despite reports of three bids, the Gunners failed to reach an agreement with the Premier League side, leaving them without a deadline-day signing.
All the same, a couple of Arsenal’s more senior youth midfielders completed loan moves away from the club.
21-year-old Tim Akinola joined National League side Chesterfield on loan until the end of the season, whilst 19-year-old Miguel Azeez completed a move to Segunda Division with UD Ibiza.
James Olayinka also left on a permanent deal on deadline day, on top of Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand and Charlie Patino moving on loan earlier in the summer window.
But there are still midfielders left in the u21s. It was an area where the young Gunners were particularly stacked, and they have Matt Smith, Jack Henry-Francis, and Ben Cottrell, all of whom have featured in either friendly or competitive matches for Arteta.
There are also talented youngsters Mauro Bandeira and Catalin Cirjan as options, should Arteta need to call someone up.
Cottrell and Cirjan probably wouldn’t suit the deep midfield role where Arsenal have their injuries, but they could be options in the more advanced midfield and forward positions if necessary.
Henry-Francis is the most defensively-minded of the group, whilst Bandeira and Smith probably work best in box-to-box roles, though they can play deep as well.
Smith is clearly the highest in the pecking order at the moment, as he was making the senior squad even before Olayinka, Akinola, and Azeez left.
With Arteta’s relatively small squad and a packed fixture list, the 21-year-old could find himself getting chances soon.
Source: Daily Cannon.