With a fourth place finish on the line and just 12 games to go in the season, I have to wonder why Arsenal are still loaning put players. Needless to say if the Gunners don’t make it to the top four by the end of the campaign they can kiss goodbye to millions of pounds of Champions League money. Arsenal currently sits in fifth place in the English Premier League table with 44 points from 12 wins, eight draws and six losses.
However, they’re still four behind fourth-place Tottenham and six back of third-place Chelsea. It’s obvious they have to leapfrog one of their London neighbours if they hope to make the Champions League for a 16thstraight season. They’re also just two points in front of sixth-place Everton, so it’s going to be quite an exciting dogfight for third and fourth position from now until the end of the season.
This is why loaning players at this stage seems awfully foolish and I can’t see any sensible reason behind it. Surely the club can’t be so hard up for cash that it’s willing to gamble on missing millions of pounds from Europe just for the sake of saving a few weeks of player salaries. I understand that these players don’t get regular games and some of them were loaned out at the beginning of the season. That’s fair enough. But to do it at this stage is simply mind boggling.
Arsenal have some decent players out on loan who could certainly help the club out in the case of an injury crisis. These include striker Marouane Chamakh at West Ham, striker Chu-Young Park at Celta Vigo, striker Nicklas Bendtner at Juventus, defender Johan Djourou at Hannover 96, midfielder Denílson at São Paulo, defender André Santos at Grêmio Porto Alegre, midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong at Fulham, striker Benik Afobe at Millwall, striker Wellington Silva at SD Ponferradina, midfielder Chuks Aneke at Crewe Alexandra, winger Ryo Miyaichi at Wigan Athletic, and striker Joel Campbell at Real Betis Balompié.
I believe Chamakh, Afobe, Frimpong, and Santos were all shipped out during or after the January transfer window. Granted, Afobe isn’t really a first-team player, but the others are suitable replacements in a pinch. The latest to go was 29-year-old Brazilian Santos, who will now play out the rest of the season with Gremio in Brazil. But what’s Wenger going to do if injuries hit or players are suspended with red cards?
There’s no arguing that Santos hasn’t been playing that well. But he should still be kept with the club just in case of an emergency situation. He started just half a dozen games this season and appeared in 12 in total. He had to be used when England international Kieran Gibbs was injured, but Wenger has since replaced Gibbs with Spaniard Nacho Monreal. However, Monreal isn’t going to do the team any good in the Champions League since he’s already played for Malaga and is now cup tied.
Gibbs will be out until sometime in April and Wenger doesn’t really have any natural left backs at the club. Arsenal could get on well without him and still finish in third place, but that’s not the point. Why is Wenger letting players leave when there’s so much on the line. An don’t try to justify the move by saying that Santos asked to leave. That’s too bad. He’s under contract and Arsenal should be guaranteeing their supporters that they’ve got every resource available to them. Pampered players shouldn’t be allowed to go home and play because they’re sulking at sitting on the bench.
Who’s Wenger going to use if Monreal gets injured? Bacary Sagna is already in the back four, Carl Jenkinson can play there and perhaps Francis Coquelin if needed, but none of these players are experienced left backs. There’s also no guarantee that all of these defenders will stay healthy until the end of the season. If Arsenal doesn’t want players such as Chamakh and Santos he should be keeping them at the Emirates until the end of the season and unloading them then, not while fourth place still has to be fought for.
Wenger isn’t the only manager to loan players out while teams are fighting for position. For example, Harry Redknapp inexplicably loaned striker Djibril Cisse out while Queens Park Rangers are battling for survival in the Premier League from the basement of the table. Redknapp signed Loic Remy during the transfer window and he’s been injured recently playing for QPR. Scenarios like this are simply too hard to make sense of.
The loan system in football should be scrapped anyway. It should only be allowed for young players up to a certain age who gain experience from it. Loaning out seasoned veterans isn’t fair. This allows teams to stock up on players and then just loan them out while needy competitors can’t sign them. The whole system needs to be overhauled with stricter rules and regulations put in place. I’d like to see loans only allowed for players up to the age of 23 and/or those who have fewer than 40 games experience in the Premier League.