Carl Jenkinson completed his loan move to West Ham yesterday and even though agreement has no permanent clause attached to it, it does appear to be the beginning of the end of his Arsenal career. Whilst Arsene Wenger had previously resisted attempts by Hull City to buy the player outright, the club’s decision to bring two new full-backs to The Emirates - at a cost of nearly £30m - does suggest that whatever long-term hopes he had for Jenkinson have been downsized.
Yes, Calum Chambers will probably develop into a centre-half during the course of his career, but for the time-being he will compete for the right-back berth with Mathieu Debuchy.
At West Ham, Jenkinson will find first-team football far easier to come by and all things remaining equal he should be able to dislodge Guy Demel from Sam Allardyce’s line-up and become a regular part of an average Premier League side.
But that’s the word you always associate with Jenkinson: ‘average’. Nothing more, nothing less, just a generic player with an fairly mundane skill-set.
He is still young and at 22 he has his best years ahead of him, but Jenkinson doesn’t possess any outstanding attributes - or at least, none which suggest that he could ever be a viable first-choice at a club like Arsenal. His distribution is usually very reliable and he’s not at all bad with the ball at his feet, but neither of those strengths really relate to the position he plays - his defending generally looks very awkward and when he does get forward into the final-third, his delivery is frequently underwhelming.
The point here is not to trash a young player, but there has to be a curiosity as to what it was that Wenger once saw in Jenkinson and why he believed that he was ever destined for anything beyond the mid-to-low level of the division. There have been plenty of Arsenal youngsters who haven’t met their expectations, but in most cases the club’s belief in them was understandable - either because of flashes of talent or obvious physical merits.
Carl Jenkinson is a boyhood Arsenal fan and so it’s nice for him to get the opportunity to realise a long-standing ambition, but his chances of ever having a long-term career at The Emirates have always felt remote.
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