Kieran Tierney could return to Emirates Stadium far sooner than expected after joining Real Sociedad on a season-long loan transfer from Arsenal owing to one UEFA ruling.

The 26-year-old left north London for Donostia-San Sebastian last weekend without any buy clauses. Real Sociedad paid Arsenal £1.2m only to loan Tierney for the 2023/24 term and will also cover his salary in full. He receives £110k-a-week on a contract running until June 2026.

Arsenal agreed to send Tierney to La Liga without Real Sociedad getting an option to buy the left-back in the hopes that the deal increases the defender’s market value. The Scotland star fell hugely out of favour at Emirates Stadium after Mikel Arteta signed Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Kieran Tierney of Arsenal before loan transfer to possible Champions League opponent Real Sociedad
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

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Why did Arsenal sanction a season-long loan transfer to Real Sociedad for Tierney?

Tierney only started in six of his 27 Premier League appearances during the 2022/23 season, despite making all 38 squads. He further only featured for 776 minutes and only offered one assist. The full-back also started this season behind Jurrien Timber and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Even Jakub Kiwior opened the action at left-back against Fulham last Saturday while Tierney was nowhere to be seen. Arteta omitted the 38-cap Tartan Army star from each of Arsenal’s Premier League squads this term. Now, Tierney will hope to thrive on loan to Real Sociedad.

Kieran Tierney in action for Arsenal against Barcelona before loan transfer to possible Champions League opponent Real Sociedad
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Switching to the Anoeta Stadium secured Tierney a chance to play at the top end of La Liga. The transfer will also offer the Arsenal outcast a chance to play Champions League football in 2023/24. The Txuri-Urdinak finished fourth in La Liga in 22/23 to also qualify for the UCL.

Tierney could now return to Emirates Stadium already in the Champions League

This Thursday’s Champions League group stage draw could see Tierney return to Arsenal far sooner than expected following his loan transfer to Real Sociedad. The Txuri-Urdinak will be in Pot 3 or Pot 4 for this week’s draw. So, they might meet the Gunners, who will be in Pot 2.

Therefore, UEFA can draw Real Sociedad in Arsenal’s group, providing Arteta’s side does not go into a group with Pot 1 teams Barcelona or Sevilla. UEFA rules prevent two sides from the same nation playing in the same group. But another UEFA rule may see Tierney face Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reacts against Fulham as Kieran Tierney secures loan transfer to possible Champions League opponent Real Sociedad
Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Unlike the Premier League, UEFA rules do not allow its member teams the right to block any player from facing their parent club should they meet. So, unless Arsenal secured a separate clause in Tierney’s loan transfer, Real Sociedad could unleash the Scot against Arteta’s team.

Manchester City saw UEFA’s rule come into force last season when Joao Cancelo played Pep Guardiola’s side with Bayern Munich. Philippe Coutinho also infamously scored twice against his parent club, Barcelona, to secure Der FCB an 8-2 win at Camp Nou back in August 2020.

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