Which of the Arsenal youngsters on loan has the best chance of breaking into the first team?

LONDON, ENGLAND: Mikel Arteta, manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 18, 2021. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Loan spells are essential to a player’s development for that purpose and the Gunners currently have 19 plying their trade elsewhere for the 2021/22 season. Who are most likely to break into the first team?

William Saliba has been arguably the top loaner this season after excelling during his time at Marseille.

The 20-year-old defender has made 26 Ligue 1 appearances and made such an impression that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is reportedly eager to open talks over a lucrative new long-term contract.

Saliba joined the club for £27m from Saint-Etienne almost three years ago but is yet to make a first-team appearance. This should change from this summer.

Arteta recently said it was ‘difficult to explain’ why he sent Saliba out on loan for a third season, but he is certainly a ‘longtime player for us’. He added: “He is very happy to go now. I hope he can enjoy his football and be ready for us next season.

Although there doesn’t appear to be another loanee player ready to break straight into Arteta’s first team, a number of youngsters have served their loan clubs with distinction in recent months.

Reiss Nelson, who made his debut for the Gunners in 2017, provided his first assist for Feyenoord in November but has generally missed the point as a winger and that will make Arteta sit up and take notice.

Folarin Balogun also recently opened his account for Middlesbrough, scoring the only goal in a 4-1 loss to Sheffield United.

Folarin Balogun celebrating a goal for Middlesbrough (Photo via Middlesbrough on Instagram)

The 20-year-old has made ten appearances for the Championship and is still highly rated by the club. Balogun has featured twice for Arsenal in the Premier League this season with his debut in the 2-0 loss to Brentford in August. The Gunners have improved since then and are more likely to be one of the top tips in the latest football betting stories, which look at upcoming games in the top flight.

Meanwhile, Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos has impressed on his second loan spell at VfB Stuttgart where he has scored four goals this season in 22 appearances. The 24-year-old is in demand with West Ham, Newcastle United and Borussia Dortmund among those looking to secure his signature.

Héctor Bellerín, Mattéo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira, who have each made at least 80 appearances for the Arsenal first team, are three players on loan who are performing admirably but are also absent.

Bellerin has registered four assists in 26 appearances for Real Betis in La Liga, while Gundouzi and Torreira have featured prominently for Marseille and Fiorentina respectively.

Arsenal also have a crop of young players on loan in the Football League, including Jordi Osei-Tutu at Nottingham Forest and Daniel Ballard at Millwall. For next season, it only looks like Saliba will make the move, but other players could still claim a claim in the final months of the 2021/22 campaign.

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