One of the positives in what has been an up and down season for Arsenal has been the emergence of young players such as Emile Smith-Rowe.
The 20-year-old cut his teeth on loan with Huddersfield Town last season before returning to the Emirates to great effect this term – could Ben Sheaf follow in his footsteps?
The midfielder was sent out on a season-long loan move to Championship outfit Coventry City in September, having spent the season before with Doncaster Rovers in League One.
He’s become a mainstay in Mark Robins’ side, featuring 26 times for the Sky Blues already this season – though he missed their last game after picking up a hamstring injury against Nottingham Forest.
There is a lot to like about the 23-year-old – who looks after possession very well, averaging 41 passes per game with a squad-high accuracy of 83.7%, but isn’t afraid of doing the dirty work.
The midfielder’s tenacity has seen him win 61.3% of his defensive duels this term, on top of averaging 5.18 interceptions and 9.86 recoveries per 90 minutes (Wyscout).
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That has made him a very useful player for Robins this season but even so, it seems unlikely that he will be returning to North London to compete in Mikel Arteta’s first-team squad next season.
It’s unclear what the benchmark to trigger the clause is but with 26 games for the club already under his belt, it seems to be fast approaching.
While Sheaf has certainly given a good account of himself at Coventry, he’s not played at a level that would suggest he would improve the Gunners’ current squad, or even get into it.
It seems his seven years with Arsenal could be set to come to an end sooner rather than later.