Jon Toral's hopes of establishing himself in the first-team set-up at Arsenal have been boosted after he was handsomely rewarded for a fine season-long loan spell at Birmingham City. The skilful Spanish midfielder, who spent the 2014/15 campaign with second-tier rivals Brentford, collected a hat-trick of trophies at the Championship club's end-of-year awards ceremony at the Vox, Resorts World on Monday night (9 May).
In addition to scooping goal of the season for a sublime left-footed volley following a flick-on from striker Clayton Donaldson during a 3-0 victory over 10-man Ipswich Town in January, Toral was also named Players' Player of the Season and Supporters' Player of the Season. The 21-year-old netted eight times in total, two more than last term, and made 38 appearances across all competitions, scoring on his debut at St Andrew's against Reading on the opening day.
He was sent off for two bookable offences in the defeat to promoted Burnley in April and that proved to be his last contribution as suspension and a subsequent hamstring injury ruled him out of the final four draws with Preston North End, Huddersfield Town, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City. Gary Rowett's Birmingham kept themselves within touching distance of the play-offs for most of the year, but eventually finished 10th and 11 points adrift of sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
A former prospect of Barcelona's prolific La Masia youth academy, Toral, comfortable being deployed on either flank or as a number 10, joined Arsenal in 2011 but has yet to make a senior competitive appearance for the club and is only contracted for one more year. He has been involved in consecutive pre-season campaigns under Arsene Wenger, though, and hopes to feature for the Gunners again this summer before making a definitive decision over his future.
"I'll go back to Arsenal and then we'll decide from there. I'll play pre-season there and see what the future holds for me," he recently responded to questions over his next step .
When asked if he would be willing to return for a second spell at Birmingham, Toral added: "I'd have nothing against that after my experience here this season because I have had a wonderful time and enjoyed it. But I need to talk to Arsenal and we'll decide what's best for me."