Portsmouth manager reveals plans for ex-Arsenal youngster after pulling off eye-catching swoop

Danny Cowley has challenged Zak Swanson to establish himself as Pompey’s League One right-back.

Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 4:30 pm

The highly-regarded 21-year-old has been snapped up for an undisclosed fee from Arsenal and will now vie with Kieron Freeman.

Swanson has yet to feature in the Premier League or Football League, although has six Papa John’s Trophy outings under his belt for the Gunners’ under-21s.

There was also a six-month loan spell at Dutch club MVV Maastricht in the 2020-21 campaign.

Nonetheless, he has been earmarked for a first-team battle at Fratton Park – and Cowley is relishing unleashing the former Arsenal under-23 skipper.

Pompey’s head coach told The News: ‘This is his challenge isn’t it. Zak comes into the group and his challenge will be to try to find a way into that team.

‘We know there’s a lot of potential there. He has done very, very well in age-group football, a small experience in Holland on loan in senior football, and at the back-end of last season the Arsenal first-team.

‘This is the next step in his journey.

Danny Cowley has high hopes for new signing Zak Swanson. Picture: Portsmouth FC

‘We’ve been trying to get it over the line for the last couple of weeks, he fits the remit of the type of players we’re trying to bring into the club. There’s real growth in him.

‘Tactically and technically he’s very bright, particularly in possession, he has an athletic profile, a really good aerobic capacity, and loves to get on the overlap.

‘Zak loves to knock and follow and pass the ball into the box and create chances, but also can carry some goal threat as well.

‘There’s lots to like and, like all young players, a lot to work on, but that’s the reason he’s here and we’re really looking forward to the journey.

‘He's had a really good education at Arsenal, being there since a young boy, progressing through the 18s and under-23s and captaining that team, he was a real leader among that group.

‘We see the right character first and foremost, we like the qualities he has as a player and see a lot of growth in him.’

Swanson has been regarded as a versatile performer during graduation through Arsenal’s Academy, including performing in midfield and at centre-half.

It’s a useful trait which Cowley acknowledges – but insists recruitment has been made with purely right-back in mind.

He added: ‘Zak can play in a number of positions and may seem quite versatile.

‘He’s a technically gifted boy, so he’s a good passer, a good receiver, he’s very good at carrying the ball and because he is quite a balanced player,

‘Zak also has a real tactical intelligence, he understands the game, so, as a consequence, is able to adapt to different positions, which is obviously good when you are a small squad.

‘Primarily, though, he’s a right-back for sure.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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