Portsmouth boss reveals thinking over Arsenal midfielder Miguel Azeez's future for first time ahead of January window

Danny Cowley has outlined his desire to keep Miguel Azeez for the season.

By Jordan Cross
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 12:00 pm

And the Pompey boss has stressed his belief the Arsenal midfielder’s stay at Fratton Park has been good for his development, despite a lack of playing time.

Cowley can see the England under-20 international’s influence growing over the second half of the campaign, and wants him to remain in one of his precious loan slots.

Azeez has made six appearances so far, after missing a stretch of the season with a groin injury, with his parent club having a recall clause they can action next month.

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The 19-year-old is seen as one of the game’s bright, young prospects and Cowley has no doubt about what he will go on to achieve after working with Azeez at close quarters.

Cowley has now set out his stall that he absolutely doesn’t want the rising star to depart Fratton Park.

He said: ‘Miguel Azeez is 19, he is without doubt one of the top players of his age.

‘He hasn’t had it all his own way - and he is one of the very best.

Miguel Azeez.

‘So imagine how hard it is for an academy player at Portsmouth or a lesser player to come in and excel at this level. That’s how big the jump and the challenge is.

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‘There’s no doubt that Miguel is going to the top, there is no doubt he’s going to be an outstanding player.

‘If you watch his focus, the way he moves and his top-end quality around goal, you can see he’s going to be a top player.

‘We don’t want him to go back, we enjoy working with him every day.

‘He’s just on a journey.

They (Arsenal) have to decide if they see it the same as us.

‘I know the loan has been brilliant for him.

‘I promise it has been an unbelievable experience for him, and it will hold him in such good stead for the future. I’m categoric about that.’

Pompey currently have five loan players at the club - Azeez, Gavin Bazunu, Mahlon Romeo, George Hirst and Gassan Ahadme - the maximum allowed to be named in a matchday squad.

With Cowley having to be creative with January recruitment, freeing up space with temporary additions is an obvious area for the head coach to work.

Azeez is wanted, however, and the 43-year-old is hopeful Arsenal will see things in the same way he does.

Cowley thinks the fact the teenager hasn’t had things all his own way at Pompey will benefit him moving forward.

He added: ‘This loan has been great for him.

'These players are on a pathway to being elite players. They are boys who’ve only known success and been better than anyone in their age group.

‘When they gets there (to the top) they've lived that journey where they’ve all been successful.

‘Those players won’t all be successful, though, when they get there because they are competing with each other.

‘So to develop the coping strategies and have some adversity and tougher moments along the way, is brilliant for their development.’

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