Arsenal could play January wildcard thanks to Mikel Arteta and Edu’s clause

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu have ensured they are not left light in midfield when the African Cup of Nations comes around by inserting a shrewd contract clause

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Smith Rowe’s England U21 absence explained by Carsley

Arsenal have left the door open for Miguel Azeez to return to the Emirates in January by inserting a clause into his loan deal with Portsmouth.

Azeez, 18, joined Pompey for the season at the end of August in search of the minutes he was unlikely to play for the Gunners.

Arsenal are not competing in Europe this season, meaning opportunities are scarce for youngsters looking to stake their claim for first-team appearances.

Therefore, manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu sanctioned the young midfielder’s loan to the south coast, where he will hope to feature regularly for Portsmouth in League One.

Miguel Azeez scored a long-range strike in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Watford in pre-season

But Arsenal chiefs have ensured they can cut Azeez’s loan short if they need to, with reporting they can recall the England youth international in January.

Arteta and Edu may choose to activate the clause to bolster their midfield at a time when Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny will travel to the African Cup of Nations to represent Ghana and Egypt respectively.

Azeez – who scored against Watford in a pre-season friendly – made two appearances with Arsenal’s Under-23 team in Premier League 2 last month, scoring once.

He is currently away with the England Under-20 squad and played 90 minutes in the 6-1 thrashing of Romania on Monday.

The central or defensive midfielder joined Arsenal at the age of five and he is working under Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley, who also coached Emile Smith Rowe during his time in charge of Huddersfield Town.

Cowley tipped Azeez to be a “top, top player” in a glowing verdict of his side’s new recruit while speaking to HampshireLive in August.

Is Miguel Azeez an Arsenal first-team regular in the making? Comment below.

“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,” said the Pompey manager.

“He’s got real belief and so he should because he’s incredibly competent. He’s got fantastic talent.”

Cowley added: “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.”

Azeez will hope his loan spell under Cowley can be as formative as Smith Rowe’s was, as the latter has since been handed a new contract and the No. 10 shirt at Arsenal.

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