Loan moves often come down to what is needed for a person’s development – Arsenal’s Charlie Patino is finding that out at Blackpool. Players are rarely sent to teams where they will be comfortable, sent to places where they can come to terms with the reality of professional football and be pushed to improve.
Arsenal have established informal relationships with several English Football League clubs to help their young players mature. Blackpool are one of them, taking three Arsenal players on loan in three successive seasons, with Patino the latest to test himself from the Tangerines following defender Dan Ballard and forward Tyrese John-Jules.
The initial plan was for the 19-year-old to stay with Arsenal this season with the possibility of Europa League and Carabao Cup minutes. Instead, his first loan has provided a platform for him to become more rounded than he was back playing academy football for most of the year. The midfielder has made 24 appearances for Blackpool and faced different, but useful, challenges than he would have had he stayed.
The England Under-20 international has been used in a variety of midfield roles. He has been used as a No 6 and No 8 where his natural qualities have shone through, but there is a steep learning curve with the demands of senior football.
The FA Cup trip to Premier League Southampton provided an insight into those challenges and was time well spent. athletics, With the highly-rated youngster scoring Blackpool’s goal, his third of the season, in a 2-1 defeat.
Patino’s contribution without the ball has opened more eyes to his credit. There is no hiding place in the Blackpool midfield and he has shown his willingness throughout their struggles at the bottom of the Championship.
This area of his game has been evident since his academy days. Many will remember this goal against Manchester United’s under-23 team last season.
Simply amazing @CharliePatino10 🤩 pic.twitter.com/fqi6pXMqCV
— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) September 12, 2021
What was less memorable was Patino charging down the touchline minutes later to win 50-50 on the halfway line. Similarly, his goal against Sunderland will be the most memorable moment of his Arsenal debut, but it can be forgotten that his first touch came from winning a header in midfield.
Willingness should be matched with ability, which is a big part of this loan. At the start of the year, his 27 interceptions were the most by any English teenager in Europe this season.
He won’t win every challenge, but he’s willing to hit the ball a few times at Southampton and help build trust with the managers.
“He’s got a right to go, Charlie,” Mick McCarthy, who replaced Michael Appleton as manager, said after his first game.
“He’s young, maybe he doesn’t get it right. He might have played, but in the first half, he lost it in front of us about 20 yards into their half and won it back in the 18-yard box on the other side of the pitch. I said, ‘If you can do it, you’ll do it for me.
“The will to do it is great. I like working with him in the last few days, he will be a very good player.
Patino’s quick runs have always been a hallmark of his game. He has been able to pull these off when used in more advanced areas, but has faced more resistance as teams become more familiar with him.
Early in the season, it’s not uncommon to see him slip past challenges and into the final third. Opposing midfielders are beginning to take a more hands-on approach to stopping him, as Blackpool lost to Watford this month.
After Patino deflected off Mario Gaspar’s early pressure…
…The Watford player responded by almost pulling the shirt off his back.
There was a need to be quick on the ball against Premier League opposition at St Mary’s on Saturday. He often carried the ball with one or two touches, but found it difficult to find a consistent rhythm in passing as Blackpool were more prepared to attack Southampton on the break than build up the pitch.
Given Blackpool’s approach in their first game under McCarthy (Patino used a 3-5-2 on the left of a midfield three), scoring off the ball was key in those quick attacks.
He did so in the first half to get on the end of a quick drive down the right but his shot was tame. When a similar opportunity came in the second half, he was well placed to score Blackpool’s first goal under their new manager, which was not unlike his first Arsenal goal.
his @CharliePatino10 🎶🍊
those @ Armory Man on credit @BlackpoolFC With a neat finish#EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/SfR8dOrPt1
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) 28 January 2023
Patino has shown positive glimpses when used deep by Appleton, but his game naturally gives him license to join/drive into attacks and the signing of defensive midfielder Tom Tribull will give him more opportunity to do so. McCarthy, who endeared himself to supporters with a goal against arch-rivals Preston North End, will be hoping more will follow.
Arsenal’s Charlie Patino is certainly giving Mikel Arteta something to think about with his performances on loan at Blackpool@ Armory | @BlackpoolFC | @EFL pic.twitter.com/rHu2hfuJg5
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) October 22, 2022
Exposure to all these aspects of the midfield game has become essential.
“You have to be able to play multiple roles in multiple systems,” said Arsenal Under-23 head coach Kevin Betsy last season. Athletics. “We are asking him to be the all-round midfielder.
“He has to get the ball and create attacks for us, he has to be able – when he plays in high positions – to be creative with his forward delivery or join the attack and create the box. It’s the complete game of a midfielder and defensively he has to be able to press and screen.
“His understanding of the game is high and we are able to operate him in different roles, because when the opportunity comes to play – whether it’s in our first team (or elsewhere) – the manager will ask him in two midfield, or with three in midfield, as a holder. or higher.
“When you get that opportunity, you have to be able to play in the role and if you’re only fixed as ‘you’re a midfielder’ or ‘you’re an attacking midfielder’ that limits you, so that’s the thinking behind what we do.”
If he can continue to impress McCarthy, Patino, Blackpool and Arsenal will all reap the benefits.
(Photo: Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images)