West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has confirmed that Carl Jenkinson will be returning to Arsenal at the end of the current season following his two-year loan spell with the Hammers. The Gunners star has become a fan favourite at Upton Park following some impressive performances in the last couple of seasons.
The Hammers have already moved to sign a replacement for the departing defender and have brought in Sam Byram from Leeds United. The former Croatia national team manager, however, has made it clear that he is a prospect for next season and will not get too many opportunities during the current campaign.
"He [Byram] is more for us for next season because at the moment we have Carl Jenkinson and Arsenal said at beginning of season it's his last season with us," Bilic said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
"So we started looking to fill that gap. He [Byram] came now and it is only a plus, but I can't tell you now when he's going to play," the Croatian manager added.
Jenkinson moved on loan following the arrival of Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal from Newcastle United in the summer of 2014 as Arsene Wenger was keen that the England U21 international get regular first-team exposure at a Premier League club. The latter was expected to fill the void left by Bacary Sagna's departure to Manchester City, but had a difficult first season at the club that was blighted by injury and lack of form.
The French manager had Calum Chambers, who was signed from Southampton as backup to the former Newcastle defender, but also thrust young defender Hector Bellerin into the limelight following some impressive performances for the youth side and on loan at Watford in the previous season. The Spain U21 international has grown leaps and bounds after a difficult start and is currently Wenger's preferred choice at right-back, this led to Jenkinson returning to Upton Park at the start of the current campaign, after signing a new long-term deal with the Gunners.
The former Barcelona trainee has featured 26 times in all competitions for the Emirates Stadium outfit thus far this campaign, which has relegated the more experienced Debuchy to the bench on most occasions. The French international has admitted that he is keen to leave the club, and as per Bilic's admission, the club are ready to bring back Jenkinson to battle Bellerin for the starting role in the first-team from next season.