Arsenal loanee Dan Crowley will return to the Emirates Stadium after the Gunners recalled the midfielder from his six-month loan spell at Barnsley. The 18-year-old former Aston Villa youngster, who signed his first professional contract with the north London side in the summer of 2014, was due to remain at Oakwell until at least 3 January 2016 but will now return to his parent club after the deal was brought to a premature end.
Barnsley have confirmed the news through an official statement while thanking Crowley for his services, with manager Lee Johnson playing down reports claiming the club terminated the loan agreement after the player failed to make the impact expected.
He said: "I think Dan's had a fantastic time here. We've really enjoyed working with him. He's the most talented 18-year-old I've ever seen. For me, I'm really appreciative to Arsenal. I have nothing but positive words for him as a lad and as a player."
During his time under head coach Johnson, Crowley made 11 total appearances in League One and also appeared for the Tykes in their Johnstone's Paint Trophy first-round victory at Scunthorpe. The England U19 international scored his only goal for Barnsley during the thrilling 5-3 extra-time defeat to Premier League side Everton in August, a confident right-footed finish from inside the penalty area that left goalkeeper Joel Robles with no chance whatsoever and temporarily restored their lead.
'Exceptional and exciting talent'
Upon signing him in July, Barnsley claimed to have seen off competition from a number of Championship suitors and Johnson told the official website: "I'm delighted to welcome Dan on board. He is an exceptional and exciting talent who is very highly thought of at Arsenal and we are extremely pleased that we have been entrusted with his further development.
"This loan signing further evidences that Barnsley can persuade some of the country's best young talent to come to us, even where there is stern competition. Undoubtedly, at just 17 years old, Dan is one of the best young players in his age group in Europe. Dan has genuine, top-level skill and quality. I am delighted Arsenal have chosen Barnsley to aid the development of this exceptional talent, as well as aiding us in our pursuit of promotion."
Crowley's return to north London comes at a time when Arsenal's youngsters are being subjected to a fair amount of scrutiny. After Tony Pulis publicly stated his view that loanee Serge Gnabry was not currently good enough to play for West Bromwich Albion, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger handed debuts to Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi as well as Krystian Bielik and Ismael Bennacer during the Capital One Cup fourth-round tie at Sheffield Wednesday on 27 October.
Wenger was evidently not pleased with their efforts in a woeful 3-0 defeat at Hillsborough, however, proclaiming those debutants were "not ready to play at this level". Arsenal also lost both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and replacement Theo Walcott to injury during a costly evening in South Yorkshire.