Arsenal are set to send Chuba Akpom out on loan for the remainder of the season with Norwich City leading the race, reports The Mirror.
The 19-year-old was on the fringes of the first-team squad at the turn of the year, threatening to break in ahead of Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud. But despite appearing seven times for the Gunners this season, he has not played since the 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup last month.
Having agreed a four-and-a-half year contract with Arsenal last month, Akpom would have been expecting slightly more first-team action than he has received. However, the excellent form of Giroud coupled with the fierce battle for a top four place has shifted him down the ranks.
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Fresh loan deal
Now Arsene Wenger is ready to send Akpom on loan for the remainder of the season. Premier League clubs are not eligible to complete a loan deal, but clubs in the football league can. Norwich are favourites as they battle for an automatic promotion place.
Derby, Bournemouth, Ipswich and Nottingham Forest are all interested but Forest are only club not fighting for promotion to the Premier League. Norwich, however, is the closest club to Arsenal's north London-base and is the most attractive option for the pacey striker.
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Akpom enjoyed spells on loan with Coventry and Brentford last season and is highly-rated by Arsenal coaches. They fought hard to convince him to stay at the Emirates after coming close to losing him.
The England youth international was drawing interest from Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and even Borussia Dortmund as his contract ran into its final six months. Only Dortmund were eligible to open pre-contract talks, but Wenger eventually convinced Akpom that the best place to develop his talent was Arsenal.
A report in the BBC claimed that Wenger sent Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell out on loan in January to elevate Akpom to the first-team. He saw his role within the squad grow quickly, but once his new contract was agreed, he disappeared back into the youth ranks.
Unless Wenger plans to start using Akpom more, he will will have to seek a loan deal for him next season as well. A Premier League move is not out of the question. Whoever gets promoted would jump at the chance to sign him on a temporary basis.
Is Chuba Akpom good enough to make it at Arsenal or is this loan deal the beginning of the end for his Arsenal career?