Portsmouth transfer news: Danny Cowley offers honest verdict on Arsenal loanee Miguel Azeez ahead of Emirates recall
Danny Cowley said he’s always had Miguel Azeez’s best interests at heart time as the Arsenal loanee closes in on a return to the Emirates.
On Thursday, The News exclusively revealed that the Gunners will be bringing the midfielder back to north London early from his season-long deal at Fratton Park after growing frustrated with his lack of game time on the south coast.
But just before details of his return emerged, the Blues head coach explained how Azeez’s time at PO4 will still be valuable for his overall development.
The Arsenal under-23 captain arrived at Fratton Park on August 30 in the hope of continuing progress that has seen him capped by England up to under-20 level,
He was also seen as a key ingredient to Pompey’s push towards promotion.
However, after arriving on the eve of the summer transfer window deadline, the 19-year-old featured just 10 times, with four of those coming as starts in League One.
Despite this, Cowley stressed the player’s development was always at the forefront of his mind.
He said: ‘We speak regularly with Arsenal and we’ve obviously got a good relationship with them. We’ve had a number of their players over the years.
‘I think they’ve got trust in us to work with the players – and they know we’ve always had their players’ best interests at heart, which I think they respect and appreciate.
‘We’re always looking for the clearest pathway to accelerate the young players' progress.
‘I think they’re really pleased with the learning he (Miguel) has taken from this experience. In life we learn in many ways. We can learn from success, but also from moments of challenge.
‘And I think we’ve had a real balance with Miguel, where there has been both.
‘I think this has been a really, really important chapter in his football development. I think it will be pivotal to the success I have absolutely no doubt he will go on to have.’
It remains to be seen what Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will do with Azeez once he’s back at the Emirates.
Going into Sunday’s north London derby with Spurs, the Gunners are short of midfield options, with both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny currently on Africa Cup of Nations duties with their respective countries.
Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka will serve an automatic two-match ban after being sent off in the Gunners’ League Cup semi-final draw with Liverpool on Thursday night.
There’s a chance Azeez could be loaned out again once numbers are back at Arsenal.
But no matter what is decided, Cowley is convinced the midfielder will be a better player thanks to his Fratton Park experience.
‘Miguel is a young player with a huge amount of talent,’ added the Blues head coach.
‘He’s got fantastic technical ability and a good tactical understanding in possession.
‘It doesn’t matter if they come from our academy or from somebody else’s, ultimately, when they step into our training ground, we have the ambition to try to improve them and make them better.’
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