After 2010/2011 concluded in bitterly disappointing fashion for Arsenal, signifying the continuation of their trophy absence for a sixth successive season, almost the entire attention for Arsene Wenger has been shifted towards the upcoming summer transfer window and how the Frenchman can strengthen his young squad to intensify their silverware search for next season.
Wenger has vowed to implement changes into his squad as fans demand the Arsenal tactician begins to utilize funds and spend big, a tactic Wenger has neglected since his tenure began at North London in 1996. The Frenchman has predominantly preferred to invest in youth for almost no cost and in some cases it has blossomed.
Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Lauren, Gael Clichy, Alexandre Song, Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby are only a few names that emphasis Wenger's ability to develop premium talent. However, it may be just a little premature to disregard some of the upcoming young guns in favour of big money, high-calibre signings.
Due to the renowned Arsenal academy and the youngsters it possesses, there a high expectation and one challenge all youngsters striving to grace Wenger's starting XI must complete is a loan spell, predominantly at a lower league club.
Every campaign a handful of youngsters are given the opportunity to impress abroad, and 2010/2011 was no different with an outstanding 19 players throughout the season experiencing stints. In recent years the level of exciting youngsters has decreased with less and less enjoying promotion to the top level ensuring these spells act as more as a trial to the English footballing world.
However, this season has provided some prospects the ideal opportunity to develop and showcase their evident talent. One player who has enjoyed a stellar loan spell is young defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin.
The Frenchman spent the entire season with Ligue One outfit Lorient FC in part of a deal which saw Laurent Koscielny arrive at the Emirates for £8.5 million during the summer. Coquelin joined Arsenal in 2008 from French second-tier side Stade Lavallois and immediately impressed for the Arsenal reserve and youth sides.
During his first season with the Gunners, the youngster made his Arsenal first-team debut in the Carling Cup as a second-half substitute before playing a vital role in the Arsenal's youth double of the Premier League Academy and FA Youth Cup.
Primarily a defensive midfielder, Coquelin was trialled at right back during 2009/2010 but disappointed in his only start for Arsenal of the campaign, an FA Cup loss to Stoke City. However, the 20-year-old's spell with Lorient FC saw Coquelin star in the heart of the midfield.
Ammassing 25 appearances and an impressive goal against Rennes, Coquelin impressed many during the season with Les Merlus manager Christian Gourcuff stating his desire to resign Coquelin on loan next season. But does the French midfielder have a future in Wenger's plan.
The 2011/2012 campaign will enable world football to witness another fantastic display of the African Nations Cup, which will commence on January 21, 2012 before concluding on February 12. This ensures Arsenal will be without African quartet Alexandre Song, Emmanuel Frimpong, Marouane Chamakh and Emmanuel Eboue who play for Ghana, Morocco and the Ivory Coast respectively.
Does Francis Coquelin have a role in Arsenal's first team?
Coquelin is capable of fulfilling both defensive midfield roles and right back, positions enforced by Song, Frimpong and Eboue. Furthermore, there was a distinct lack of depth in the Arsenal midfield during testing times with the likes of Denilson, Tomas Rosicky and even Abou Diaby failing to perform when key players were absent.
Coquelin now possess vital experience and has conveyed his ability to be a non nonsense, efficient midfielder whose versatility is more than valuable. However the presences of Emmanuel Frimpong, Henri Lansbury and Aaron Ramsey could restrict the French U-20 star to limited appearances predominantly in the Carling Cup.
It is evident the youngster has talent and the potential to be an Arsenal regular but with the opportunity to complete another loan spell in which consistent playing time is assured, should Wenger induct Coquelin into his first team roster?