Arsenal under-21 captain Julio Pleguezuelo has completed his loan move to second division side RCD Mallorca for the 2016-2017 campaign, the Gunners have confirmed. Arsene Wenger is desperately looking for a centre-back to replace injured Per Mertesacker but it seems the French boss believes it is still too soon for the former Barcelona starlet to feature in the first-team, and has decided to send him on loan to the Spanish second division to garner further experience.
This way the promising 19-year-old defender will continue his development in his homeland as he was born in the Balearic Islands.
Pleguezuelo moved to the Emirates Stadium academy in the summer of 2014 after being plucked by Wenger from Barcelona's prolific La Masia academy, following in the footsteps of Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida, Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral.
He was expected to replicate the success of his compatriots but his development in north London was hampered in his first two seasons due to a number of injuries. But the youngster managed to turn around the situation during the last campaign to establish himself as captain of the U21 side.
The former Barcelona academy star trained regularly with the Arsenal first-team last season. However, in February he announced his intentions to continue his development on loan elsewhere in the 2015-2016 campaign.
"I have not yet travelled with the first-team and my hope is that I will do so between now and the end of the season and have a good pre-season and hopefully go out on loan next year to gain first-team experience," he told the club website.
Wenger has thus opted to send him to Mallorca as his chances of breaking through into the first-team in the 2016-2017 campaign looks remote. Arsenal also recently bolstered his preferred position with the addition of promising Rob Holding from Bolton while the French boss has promised to sign at least one more defender after Mertesacker picked up a serious long-term knee injury during a pre-season fixture against Lens.
"Julio Pleguezuelo has joined Segunda Division side RCD Mallorca on loan for the season," Arsenal confirmed. "The 19-year old is a commanding centre-back and was our under-21s captain last term. Julio, who grew up in Mallorca, will return to his native Island for the opportunity to gain first team experience. We wish him well for the season ahead."