Although not much of a surprise, Arsenal’s Carl Jenkinson has joined fellow London-based club West Ham United on a season-long loan. With the Gunners securing both Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers this summer, Jenkinson was pushed down to third option in the right back pecking order and would’ve found playing time scarce. While there was reported interest in other Premier League teams in signing Jenkinson on a permanent deal (there were rumors of a Hull City bid), Arsenal made the right choice in loaning out the 22-year-old defender.
Jenkinson has been utilized as Arsenal’s backup right back to Bacary Sagna (now fighting for a starting role with Manchester City) for the past three seasons and has shown that he can be a solid option at the position. While he has shown potential, it is clear that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was not quite ready to hand over the reins to Jenkinson just yet. The Gunners manager was quick to sign Debuchy from Newcastle earlier in the summer, and for good reason.
Debuchy had a good 18 months in the northeast and played exceptionally well in the 2014 World Cup for France (he was France’s starting right back ahead of the aforementioned Sagna). While Debuchy would appear to be a more than adequate replacement for the outgoing Sagna, the former Newcastle man is 29-years-old and is not a long-term option for the Gunners’ right back spot.
The second right back signing of the summer for Arsenal was a bit more curious on the surface. The Gunners signed the 19-year-old right back Chambers from Southampton for a fee reportedly ranged in the $18 million-$27 million area. Although the signing of the U19 England international captain would seemingly mean the end of the road for Jenkinson at Arsenal, Wenger has revealed his intentions of giving Chambers playing time at three difference positions on the pitch.
During an interview following the Chambers signing, Wenger stated, “[Chambers] can play at center back, right back and central midfield. I hope he will give us competition for the players in these three positions. He hasn’t played many games, no, but the English players on the market in England are very expensive and at the end of the day I was ready to take a gamble because he is a player for the future.”
With Wenger looking to move Chambers around, and Debuchy already 29-years-old, it is theoretically possible that Jenkinson could still get playing time with the Gunners once his year-long loan in East London expires. The valuable experience with West Ham in the upcoming season will be immense for Jenkinson, who needs to play consistently to further develop his game. The youngster will seemingly be in competition with Guy Demel as West Ham’s starting right back. The 33-year-old Demel made 30 Premier League starts at the position last season for the Hammers. If Jenkinson can make the starting right back spot his own, he will get the consistent playing time necessary to further his development, and give him an opportunity to show Arsenal that he still has a role to play for them.