Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom has joined Championship side Brighton on a season-long loan. The Arsenal youngster is one of a core group of exciting youngsters currently coming through the academy. But with Danny Welbeck healthy again, and Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, and Lucas Perez all in good form, first team opportunities will be limited.
This is Akpom’s fifth loan and his second to a side in the hunt for Premier League promotion. He previously spent time with Brentford, Coventry, Nottingham Forest, and Hull City who he helped gain promotion with seven goals in 22 starts.
Akpom has made 10 appearances for Arsenal’s first team – one coming off the bench. He made his first start for the club in September in a 4-0 win against Nottingham Forest in the 3rd round of the EFL Cup. Akpom started on the left in that match and played well, showing good pace, technique, and movement.
The 21-year old striker initially impressed during the pre-season and as a result, Arsene Wenger opted to keep Akpom in the first team versus sending him out on a season-long loan. Opportunities were limited after his sole start in the EFL Cup due to a serious back injury causing him to miss three months. Now at an age where game time is important, a loan seems like the only option to prevent stunting his development.
Another Arsenal youngster has also gone out on loan. According to Get French Football, Ismaël Bennacer has joined Ligue 2 side Tours. A week ago, Wenger spoke highly of his French compatriot and this loan also seems like an attempt to further player development.
Breaking | Arsenal attacker Ismaël Bennacer is currently undergoing a medical with Tours ahead of a short-term loan deal. (Téléfoot)
— Get French Football (@GFFN) January 30, 2017
With the January transfer window coming to a close on Tuesday, Wenger ruled out any incoming transfer but is open to selling Carl Jenkinson or Mathieu Debuchy.
Jenkinson came close to joining Crystal Palace a few weeks ago. Palace and Arsenal had agreed a £7 million fee but Jenkinson couldn’t come to personal terms. New Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce had previously signed Jenkinson on loan twice while with West Ham and a possible summer move shouldn’t be ruled out.
Debuchy’s future is just as muddled. The French international has made his displeasure at Arsenal clear for the better part of a year now and has done little to hide his poor relationship with Wenger.
Debuchy has made one appearance for the squad this season but came off injured. He recently returned to full training and Wenger declared him available for selection. That declaration seemed more like a call out to other clubs, though, as both player and club went to move on quickly. As of yet, no club has registered their interest.
If Arsenal were to sell Jenkinson Debuchy, Hector Bellerin would be the club’s only natural right back in the senior team. Gabriel would serve as Bellerin’s backup if both players were sold.