As the January transfer window approaches in two months’ time, the focus is heavily on where Arsenal will be looking to invest, as well as who could and should be moved on.
Seeing the team go nine matches unbeaten in all competitions with a 2-0 win over Leicester, any talk of new arrivals is understandably put on the back burner. This is a side that is going places and positivity is bursting from every seam.
But incomings and departures are not the only thing on the agenda. About two hours’ drive south from London there is a player who is not enjoying the fruitful season many predicted: Miguel Azeez.
Deemed ready to be playing men’s football away from the Under-23 side, Azeez had offers aplenty for loan spells before Arsenal finally plumped for Portsmouth.
Arsenal have January midfield transfer decision to make with Miguel Azeez struggling for minutes at Portsmouth under Dan Cowley
On paper it was a fantastic move. League One would be a brilliant step for the 19-year-old where he could get a feel for first team football on a day-to-day basis, especially as it would come under the guidance of Dan Cowley.
The former Huddersfield manager has a strong reputation for developing talent, just as he had done with Emile Smith Rowe when he spent the second half of the 2019/20 season on loan with the west Yorkshire outfit.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Azeez since joining Pompey, and being an unused substitute in the recent 1-0 win over Bolton meant he’s played only 59 minutes of league football for the club since joining. On the other nine occasions he’s remained on the bench or not been included.
There was an injury that set Azeez back earlier in his spell but he’s now fully recovered and is struggling to break into Cowley’s first team. He needs to improve the defensive aspect of his game and the Pompey boss listed his lack of understanding out of possession as the key reason behind the dearth of playing time.
“He’s not far at all (from getting more minutes),” he told The News. “He’s been working really hard, he’s just learning the game against the ball.
“There have been aspects to work on, certainly in terms of his understanding and intensity against the ball, that’s what we’ll focus on. The great thing about him, he’s a humble boy, he wants to learn and get better.”
While the hope is there that the time will come for Azeez – who could also have been protected as Portsmouth have gone through a tough spell without getting results – Arsenal have the option to recall him in January, something they may be deliberating over.