In this post, we’ll see how some of Arsenal’s most prominent borrowers crossed the continent this weekend.
There is only one place to start when it comes to the harvest of talents who are currently honing their craft outside of the Emirates, and that is the Stade Velodrome.
William Saliba is a name that, of course, has long been on the lips of the Arsenal faithful, and the talented young stopper has yet to make an appearance at the club, despite being signed two years ago.
And, last weekend, the Frenchman once again demonstrated exactly why he is held in such high regard in his home country.
After shining in a Europa League meeting with Lokomotiv Moscow last week, Saliba was back in play from the start on Sunday, when Marseille hosted Stade Rennais in a Ligue 1 clash.
And the promising defender went on to command OM’s bottom line in a dominant fashion, barely putting one foot wrong all night en route to a 2-0 win:
William Saliba vs Rennes— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) September 19, 2021
99% pass accuracy
3/3 accurate long balls
2/2 successful dribbles
1 tackle won
1 blocked shot
2/3 aerials won
5/7 duels won
The Art of Defending. pic.twitter.com/YRTA682C9G
Marseille, in turn, has risen to the dizzying heights of second place in the French top flight, behind only Paris Saint-Germain, with a game in hand.
Coincidentally, impressing alongside Saliba at the Velodrome 24 hours ago came another member of the Arsenal loan army as well.
The player in question? Matteo Guendouzi.
Unlike Saliba, the talented midfielder Guendouzi is guaranteed to leave North London permanently next summer, and Marseille’s loan agreement with Arsenal implies a purchase obligation.
Arsenal’s French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi celebrates after Arsenal’s Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang clung to Guendouzi’s pass to score his second goal and draw 2-2 during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 1. 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)
And the 22-year-old, in front of Rennes, set out to remind future former employers of him what it could have been, utterly stunning in the middle of a trademark action display.
Despite being dragged in with just over ten minutes to go, Guendouzi’s efforts even proved enough to earn him a spot on L’Equipe’s Ligue 1 Team of the Week:
Team of Matchday 6 of the Ligue 1 season.— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) September 19, 2021
Mattéo Guendouzi partners Lucas Paquetá in midfield after their stellar performances against Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain, whilst Nicolas Pallois, Ludovic Blas and Randal Kolo Muani after smashing Angers at home by a 4-1 margin. pic.twitter.com/q7t8tZJpVD
Another of the more notable names that Mikel Arteta granted a temporary outing this summer, Héctor Bellerin lined up with beloved Real Betis for the second time this weekend.
The Spaniard, of course, has just returned from another difficult campaign at the Emirates last time, but has already started to show glimpses of the player who, at one point, was regarded as a potential budding star at Arsenal.
After looking solid throughout his Betis arc en route to a 2-1 loss to Granada last time out, Bellerin took things up a notch on Sunday.
A 2-2 draw with Espanyol (which saw Betis’s heart broken by the tie in the 97th minute) saw Bellerin shine on the right flank, even in his team’s second hit of the day thanks to determined work in the stroke of the break:
Betis take the lead just before the break! 🟢⚪— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) September 19, 2021
Fantastic work from Hector Bellerin and Nabil Fekir applies the finish 👏 pic.twitter.com/TB83grJokI
Greek stopper Mavropanos has opened the new season impressively, picking up where he left off with Stuttgart in the 2020/21 campaign.
The 23-year-old had his last outing in the heart of the Die Roten backline on Sunday, in a meeting with high-flying Bayer Leverkusen at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
And although Stuttgart were ultimately defeated by 3 goals to 1, Mavropanos once again caught the attention of the spectators with their unwavering defensive presence both on the ground and in the air.
As the weeks go by, his loan club’s € 3 million call option for next summer is starting to look more and more like a potential bargain.
20 March 2021, Bavaria, Munich: Soccer: Bundesliga, Bayern Munich – VfB Stuttgart, matchday 26 at the Allianz Arena. Konstantinos Mavropanos of Stuttgart (l) and Thomas Müller of FC Bayern München in a duel for the ball. (Photo by Matthias Balk / picture alliance via Getty Images)
Azeez lasted just under an hour into his Portsmouth debut, as Pompey fell to a third loss in a row, this time at the hands of Cambridge United.
The highly touted midfielder struggled in his efforts to exert much-needed creative influence on the proceedings, and he was guilty of giving up possession cheaply on more than one occasion.
Speaking after the game, Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley provided the following assessment of the England U-20 international:
“Miguel is such a young player that he is making his way into professional soccer.”
“It was a difficult start, but this is the life of a professional footballer, it is not always easy.”
“But he is a first-rate player and he will learn a lot from today.”
He was unable to do so from the bench when Fiorentina continued their stellar opening of the campaign with a 2-1 loss to Genoa.