Arsenal allow Benik Afobe to continue his development at Bolton

Arsenal allow Benik Afobe to continue his development at Bolton

Arsène Wenger has once again entrusted Owen Coyle with the development of one of his top prospects, after allowing Benik Afobe to move to Bolton on loan.

Arsenal have accepted loan offers from both Millwall and Bolton for the 19-year-old, and Afobe has opted to move to the latter, after Wenger gave the switch his blessing earlier this week.

Afobe, who has also spent time on-loan with Huddersfield Town and then Reading, had been promised a fringe role in Wenger’s first-team setup next season, but will snub that opportunity to ramp up his development under Coyle’s tutelage.

A powerful, strong and hard working striker, Afobe has been chased by a number of clubs ranging from the lower half of the Premier League, to his former hunting ground of League One, but he will move to Bolton after they gave him guarantees over playing time.

It’s a smart decision from a kid who is clearly switched on, and proactive in his own personal development. Afobe follows close friends Jack Wilshere and more recently Ryo Miyaichi, in sparkling at one of the best finishing schools in England – the Bolton first-team.

The details are expected to be made public before the weekend.

Arsenal head to Asia retreat with several first-team hopefuls

Arsenal head to Asia retreat with several first-team hopefuls

It’s been another difficult summer for Arsenal. The early arrivals of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud were initially inspired, but now underwhelm, as captain Robin van Persie prepares to walk away.

Arsène Wenger has felt the strain more than most, and after two weeks of intense criticism and question asking, he will no doubt be glad to retreat to Asia tomorrow afternoon, as the club begin their tour of the Far East.

A chance to get away, and focus on the business of moulding his much critiqued new boys into an ever-evolving new-look squad.

Wenger took training on Friday morning already in the knowledge that van Persie would not be travelling. He will stay behind in a bid to work on fitness, and more crucially, a move away.

It’s a decision that will make the headlines, but Wenger is already planning for the future. Van Persie drops out, and is replaced in the travelling party by 19-year-old Benik Afobe. He is one of a handful of fringe first-team hopefuls who will board the plane tomorrow, desperate to force his way into the squad for next season.

Afobe has had a tough 12 months. This time last year, he was on the cusp of the first-team, but suffered a serious knee problem that needed a substantial operation. He returned, but found little game time on loan at Reading, before disappointment with England at the Under-19 Euro’s over the summer.

It’s not quite make or break, but it will feel like it.

Afobe will be joined in the squad by close friends Chuks Aneke, Ignasi Miquel and Nico Yennaris, all of whom already have their eyes on loan moves, but will want to stick around to feature in the Capital One Cup next term.

Wenger is also planning on taking the much maligned Craig Eastmond – a player who has impressed in pre-season training, and did well on loan at League 2 outfit Wycombe in the closing stages of the last campaign. It is very much his last opportunity to leave an impression.

Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, we will also get a look at German play-maker Thomas Eisfield. He arrived in January in a rushed deadline day deal, and although has had injury problems, is highly rated.

It’s a tour aimed at building the commercial networks at Arsenal, but make no mistake, the trio of fixtures are auditions for the names mentioned above, and they know it.

The hard work only begins here.

Afobe Ruled Out For Four Months

Arsenal’s much maligned injury problems are set to continue, with Benik Afobe the latest player to have his spell on the sidelines extended.

Afobe limped out of Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Manchester United in the Premier Reserve League last month, lasting just 22 minutes after picking up a groin problem. The 18-year-old was ruled out for around 10 days on initial diagnosis, but was told this afternoon he’ll miss a minimum of four months.

The news comes as a bitter blow to Afobe, who was promoted to the first-team during the summer, and was penciled in to play in last night’s Carling Cup third round win over Shrewsbury Town. He joins Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Tomáš Rosický in being given wrong come back dates this term, adding to the pressure already on Arsenal’s under-fire medical staff.

Benik may now be forced to finish the season on loan, as he bids to force his way back into Arsène Wenger’s plans.