Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley sounds convinced that he’s landed himself a real coup with the loan of Miguel Azeez, insisting that he thought the ace would ‘stay’ with the Gunners, per Hampshire Live.
Cowley, who holds a ‘good relationship’ with Arsenal owing to his work with Emile Smith Rowe during a loan spell at Huddersfield in 2019/20, wasn’t ‘sure’ that a deal could be struck for Azeez this summer.
It’s looked like Azeez was ready for the prospect of senior football all summer, whilst his pre-season friendly stunner against Watford grabbed the headlines, his physical transformation has been amazing.
You can no longer look at the 18-year-old and immediately think that he’s too slender to deal with the physical challenges of first-team football, which will be put to the test at Portsmouth.
Cowley shared that he believed Azeez would be the fifth choice for Mikel Arteta this season, leaving him with little hope of striking a loan deal for the midfielder who also caught interest from the Championship.
Cowley seems completely sold on Azeez, it’s great to see such such confidence in a youngster:
“Miguel is going to be a top, top player. He is still young, we have all got to remember that he is only 18, he’s not 19 until next month but he’s a confident boy.”
“He’s got real belief and so he should because he’s incredibly competent. He’s got fantastic talent. We weren’t sure [of a deal].”
“We knew of him because Ben Knapper (Arsenal’s loan manager) had highlighted that he was going to be the next one.”
“I think it’s been well publicised that we have got a good relationship with Arsenal, they felt we looked after Emile [Smith Rowe] in a good way.”
“Being totally honest, it’s nice to take credit for Emile [Smith Rowe], I don’t think we deserve any. We just gave him a platform and an opportunity, that is the truth.”
“We looked after him off the pitch. We helped him a little bit against the ball as well. The rest of it, he did himself.”
Cowley believed that Azeez would be the fifth choice in central midfield for Arsenal:
“Ben [Knapper] highlighted him to us but we weren’t quite sure it would be possible, there was a lot of Championship interest and we also felt that maybe, that he would stay at Arsenal because he looked like their fifth choice (central midfield).”
“They wanted to take a long-term view on him because they think so much of him as a player and he needs that stimulus, he needs that challenge. He is one of those boys I think will aspire to the challenge.”
“If you watch the performances in the Papa John’s Cup last year, competitive football, and he came on just for a short period when he played in the first team against Dundalk and in pre-season.”
“He’s one whose performances can spike with the increase in stimulus and challenge. We are really looking forward to seeing what he can do with us.”
It’s brilliant to see the confidence that Cowley has spoken about Azeez with, lauding the England youth international as a ‘fantastic talent’ and someone who will become a ‘top, top player’.
Whilst the disastrous start to Arsenal’s season, which sees them rock-bottom of the Premier League, may have opened up a chance for Azeez, sanctioning a loan away seems like the smarter move.
Given that the Gunners failed to even qualify for the Europa League last season, like they’ve done for a number of years now, it’s not like there’s the chance for Azeez to feature in the competition he debuted for Arsenal in last October.
Azeez started in the Arsenal Under-23s’ opening two Premier League 2 fixtures before leaving on loan, captaining the young Gunners in a 6-1 defeat before also playing the entire 90 minutes of a 4-2 win.