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ARSENAL LOANEES: Which Gunners are making a temporary impact elsewhere?

Arsenal have been known to benefit from sending promising players out on loan.

This season is no different with Arsene Wenger choosing a select few to send out in a bid to enhance their games at senior level.

Tribalfootball.com has taken a closer look at those Gunners hopefuls who are continuing to develop in England's and Scotland's lower leagues.


Jon Toral - Birmingham City

The Spanish attacking midfielder has enjoyed a fruitful spell with Birmingham City.

Toral has emerged as a key player at St Andrew's with 25 appearances in the Championship, including 20 starts, which have yielded six goals and four assists.

The 21-year-old has already equalled his scoring output from his impressive stint at Brentford last season and promises to deliver much more for the Brum as they continue their promotion play-off pursuit.

Toral has made such an impression in the Midlands that Birmingham boss Gary Rowett is backing him to force his way into Arsene Wenger's side upon his return to the Emirates.

“I know Jon is not our player, but he feels like he is because he's been here all year," Rowett told the Birmingham Mail late last month.

“He's a great lad, really humble, he works hard and he's enjoying his football.

“Ultimately when you see a player of that quality and also that stature - he's six feet one, great in the air, strong, has got a great touch and scores goals like that (against Ipswich Town - video below), I still see a chance for him to potentially play in the Premier League with Arsenal.

“What Jon is good at is that he finds space and knows where the space is and is very clever.

“He gets us out and up the pitch running forwards with his positional sense."

The left-footer looks at ease on the ball, is a creative outlet going forward and is not afraid to put himself in dangerous situations for the benefit of his team as evidenced by the highlights package below. Note the two diving headers, which are not all that customary for a player of his elite skill level.

Further to his skill set, the Barcelona youth product has such cracking volleys in his repertoire, as mentioned earlier.

Furthermore, Rowett admitted recently that he would love to sign Toral permanently if the opportunity arose.

“But if Jon Toral became available and there was a £2.5m fee on him I think I would be trying to push the club to see if we could do that one as well," he said after they signed Diego Fabbrini from Watford.

Wenger would be loving the fact that Toral has added a penchant for hard work to go along with his technical gift and it is these qualities which could quite possibly see him integrated into the Gunners first-team setup in 2016/17 and beyond.


Wellington Silva - Bolton Wanderers

The dazzling Brazilian has set tongues wagging during his stint with the Trotters.

Wellington, 23, has had somewhat of an interrupted campaign due to a long-term hamstring injury but has had a positive impact on Neil Lennon's side when he has been available.

Player mainly as a winger, the former Murcia and Almeria loan star has stepped out on 19 occasions for Bolton which has produced two goals and two assists.

But it is his trickery that has imprinted the minds of the Macron Stadium faithful who have been privy to some of the following throughout the 2015/16 campaign:

Endearing him further to the Trotters supporters, Wellington recently told the Bolton News that he is not even thinking about life back at Arsenal as he strives to get his current side out of the relegation mire.

“I am here until the end of the season and I don't speak with the other team," he said.

“I think of this club. When I have finished the season I will speak to them.

“I concentrate on Bolton, continue to work and help the club. They gave me an opportunity to play in England and opened a door for me. They said they needed my help.

“I have two years more at Arsenal but my head is here and I believe we will stay in this league."

Wellington has admitted the Championship is a tougher league to compete in than that of Spain's top flight so expect even more from him as he continues to adapt to England's second tier as the business end of the campaign looms near.


Gedion Zelalem - Rangers

19-year-old Gedion Zelalem has gone only a small to vindicating the enormous wraps on him during his first six months with Rangers.

A German-born central midfielder of Ethiopian heritage who has spent most of his life in the USA, Zelalem has all the tricks required to make it at the top with a club like Arsenal.

However, his slight frame has made competing in the rigours of the Scottish Championship look quite difficult at times.

During his first season of senior football, the US U23 international has made over 20 appearances for 'Gers, with the Glasgow giants sitting pretty at the summit of the Scottish second tier.

While comfortable on the ball, Zelalem is too easily muscled out of position when the pressure is applied, which has irked 'Gers fans at times this term.

Nevertheless, he showed enough to Mark Warburton and the Ibrox coaching staff that he should be rewarded with a loan extension following his initial half-season spell.

The Scottish leagues may not be the most ideal place for a player of Zelalem's stature to hone his craft but it will certainly make him grow up quickly as he strives to telegraph what his teammates are doing in a bid to outwit his more physical opponents.

It will be interesting to see how the undoubtedly talented midfielder handles the next months ahead and Gunners fans will be hoping Warburton hands him more than the four league starts he has received since the start of December.


Ainsley Maitland-Niles - Ipswich Town

Maitland-Niles has experienced an indifferent loan spell with Ipswich Town.

Tractor Boys boss Mick McCarthy even admits it.

The 18-year-old winger has played 26 times in all competitions including 19 starts in the Championship for the side that currently sits seventh, just a couple of points out of the promotion play-off spots.

England U19 international Maitland-Niles was slammed by Ipswich fans after he was subbed off at half-time of the 2-1 win over Reading earlier this month but his output was quickly defended by McCarthy.

"At times he's been different class, other times he's been mediocre or ordinary, but overall I think he's been seven out of 10," said McCarthy.

"He had a tough time the other night. I was extremely unhappy by the crowd towards him as it's not going to help.

"But he's a kid, he wasn't getting any abuse, it was just all the moans and groans, he was having a tough time and as we saw it doesn't help. If someone is standing over you moaning and groaning it's not easy."

Despite that one glaring disappointment, Gunners youth product Maitland-Niles has enjoyed a step up in class in the second division of English football and will no doubt gain an education from the experience as opposed to playing against kids in the academy setup.

At other times this term he has played with a maturity beyond his years, has been given corner and free-kick duties by McCarthy and has made life easy for right-back Luke Chambers with his ability to snuff out any opportunities for opposing wide players.

He is after all, a top prospect with a loveable nature.

McCarthy added on BBC Suffolk: "We've taken a young player on loan from Arsenal and he's come here to help us and in the main he has. I love him, he's a great kid.

“Wow. The talent of him; I think he's going to play for Arsenal, there's no doubt in my mind.

“We are just so lucky to have him."

Maitland-Niles, who plays as a grafting right-sided midfielder, will surely learn to deal with the detractors as he looks to continue contributing to the Ipswich cause with similar performances to that of his Man of the Match showings against Burnley in August, Birmingham in September and Middlesbrough in December.

Let's hope Ipswich fans do not continue to have short memories.


Isaac Hayden - Hull City

There is something so comforting about positive words from your manager.

With Isaac Hayden, the teenager has been given the stamp of approval by Steve Bruce.

Despite taking some time to adjust at the KC Stadium, following a bright beginning, the defensive midfielder is now contributing greatly to the Tigers' Championship title tilt.

Following the 6-0 hammering of Charlton Athletic in January, in which Hayden scored his first goal for the Humberside outfit, Bruce told the Hull Daily Mail of England U20 international: "I've already been on to Arsenal because I'd love to make it permanent if I could.

"I'd make it permanent tomorrow if that was possible. I desperately want to hang on to him. In an ideal world he'd want to be playing every week but he's started last weekend and again.

"He's a very good young player, who's progressing all the time.

"He's got his goal and he did very well. He's energetic and full of beans and he'll remember his first goal. I wanted to freshen us up in midfield and he was one who took his chance well. It was very good to see."

Hayden has appeared 19 times for the Tigers, who are currently second on the Championship standings, and generally plays alongside Jake Livermore and behind Mo Diame in central midfield. For that position he competes with such names as Tom Huddlestone and David Meyler.

Of the scenario, he says: "It's great having the central midfielders we've got. Playing alongside or training with players like Jake Livermore, David Meyler and Tom Huddlestone, I'm learning all the time.

"That's arguably three of the best central midfielders in the Championship. For me to be competing with them is very important. You don't normally get that at this level so I see it as a bonus."

While he is by no means a regular under Bruce, the young man who is just as capable of playing in central defence or as a playmaker, is beginning to come into his own with a promotion-chasing side full of quality players.

He himself understands it is a work in progress but more often than not, waiting patently to grab your opportunity is the rule of the day for talented youngsters who have big plans for the future.

"I've had to be patient and it's been very frustrating at times but it's just been about working hard and waiting for my chance," said Hayden last month.

“It's a learning curve whether you're playing or you're not. I've been learning constantly this season.

"I came here to play so it has been frustrating but that's football and now I have to kick on.

"I'm quite a level-headed guy and I know how things work. If the team is performing well, like when it was a nine or 10 game run without losing, you can't do anything as a player. You have to hold your hands up and say the team's on fire."


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Andrew Slevison
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