Loan spells were renewed, big names sent out, youngsters given game time and contracts came to an end. I took how a look at how some of these players are doing at the midway point of the season:
Isaac Hayden’s stint at Newcastle has got off to a steady start. Having made 29 appearances so far this season he has asserted himself as a solid defensive midfielder, willing to help the collective whilst showing off just how authoritative he can be in the middle of the park. His consistency and maturity are just two of the reasons why Newcastle fans are pleased to have him tied down for five years.
When Serge Gnabry signed on the dotted line for Werder Bremen a lot of heads were turned. Question marks about minimal game time and assurances about his talent all came to a head when the German took the Bundesliga by storm. The 21-year-old has featured in a variety of attacking positions and has managed to become his clubs top scorer up to now contributing to seven goals in sixteen appearances. His performances have been of such a standard that another potential move could be on the cards already.
Fan favourite Tomas Rosicky has only featured for eighteen minutes this season with boyhood club Sparta Prague due to continued injuries. Only one departure featured for less time on the pitch, the now retired Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard and ex Club captain joined the coaching staff of Manchester City in a bid to learn from Pep Guardiola himself and gain experience with a top level squad. Arteta was the first member of Guardiola’s coaching staff to be officially confirmed and will hope to use the experience to springboard his coaching career.
Mathieu Flamini remains in London having signed as a free agent for Crystal Palace. Flamini was brought in as an experienced head but, in a struggling season for the Eagles, has not brought anything of note to the squad.
Arsenal loaned out many faces in the Summer transfer window be it through want of game time, a need for experience or simply to prove their worth. Jack Wilshere needed game time and ultimately needed to prove his fitness was sufficient for those at the top level. Having now featured in nineteen consecutive Premier League games for AFC Bournemouth the Englishman has successfully overcome his injury woes under the guidance of Eddie Howe. Wilshere has played for more minutes this campaign than he managed in the previous two campaigns with Arsenal combined. Proving his talent every match-day has been tough viewing for many Arsenal fans who want the academy product back in the squad.
“Yes, I could use him now, but if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now.” – Arsene Wenger defending his decision to send Wilshere out on loan
Another Englishman looking to stake his claim in the Arsenal squad for next season is Calum Chambers. The defender is on loan at Middlesbrough and has started the majority of games in his preferred central position. Earlier in the season Arsene Wenger expressed his delight on how Chambers loan move was doing and stated “he needed experience and Premier League games.” That aim has certainly been achieved and, although the 22-year-old has recently suffered a stress fracture of his foot, it is only a bump on what was, up to then, a smooth road.
Many thought Joel Campbell was unlucky to be loaned out but his spell at Sporting Lisbon thus far has blown hot and cold. The Costa Rican has predominantly played on the left wing and used mainly as an impact substitution but his team currently resides in fourth place and his game time has been limited by those more talented and useful to the squad.
Jack Wilshere is wanted back by many but perhaps the most wanted man, forgotten by some, is Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish international is currently in his second spell with AS Roma with the Italian club pursuing his purchase; and why not, having kept nine cleansheets in 21 Serie A appearances this season and becoming one of Spaletti’s most important players.
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