Arsenal signing midfielder Thomas Partey on a frantic transfer deadline day acted as a climactic end to a busy window for Mikel Arteta’s side.
The 27-year-old received the most attention of any Arsenal transfer this summer, however this has left an area of recruitment without the recognition it deserves.
Throughout the summer, and especially on deadline day, Arsenal had worked endlessly to stabilise and improve their academy sides, primarily the U23s.
The Gunners took a new approach to youth transfers this season, both in terms of incomings and outgoings, with almost an entire starting XI going out on loan, alongside six new faces coming in.
Arsenal have added George Lewis, Salah Oulad M’Hand, Jonathan Dinzeyi and Tim Akinola to the U23 side on free transfers, with a view to selling them for a profit if they don’t make the senior team.
While these seem to be direct replacements for the likes of Zech Medley, Matt Smith and Trae Coyle, who all left on loan, the Gunners filled more holes in the squad on deadline day, bringing in striker Nikolaj Möller and winger Joel Ideho from Malmö and Ajax respectively.
The U23s have been left short of options going forward, with the departure of Sam Greenwood to Leeds United, so these two additions were very necessary for a side that sit bottom of Premier League 2 without a win this season.
Möller and Ideho were also joined on deadline day by defender Omar Rekik, brother of the more well-known Karim Rekik, from Hertha Berlin, who is expected to join in January after the Gunners ran out of time to finalise the deal.
The re-shaping project that Arsenal’s U23 side have undergone is one that has not been seen before at the club, and is a sign of a different direction the new hierarchy are adopting.
In years gone by, fewer players would leave on loan, and they would often be replaced by those in the U18s. However, this season, Arsenal have decided to bolster their options at youth level from other academies.
There are signs to suggest the Gunners are heading towards using a similar loan system to Chelsea, where players are sent out on loan until they are either sold, or show they are good enough for the first team. Only time will tell if this will be a success for Arsenal in the years to come.