Wigan Athletic are bracing themselves for a second loan departure, as reported by Wigan Today.
The Latics are on a good run of form, with one defeat in their last 14 matches. This weekend, they were held to a 0-0 draw by promotion hopefuls Lincoln City in a game of few chances. One player who should have featured in that encounter was on-loan Arsenal man Omar Rekik.
Rekik, a Netherlands-born Tunisian international, is on a short-term loan at the DW Stadium and has started nine matches in the league for them this season. However, he pulled out of the weekend’s encounter and will now return to the Emirates for further treatment. That could spell the end of his time at Wigan, as he was due to return in January, and Latics boss Shaun Maloney admitted it was a ‘strange one’ for him.
“It’s a strange one,” said Maloney. “He’s played through some pain in his knee in the last two games, which eventually came to a head on Friday evening, and he just couldn’t play.
“We think he’s going to go back to Arsenal just to see how things are, which is normal.”
If he does return to his parent club, he’ll be following in the footsteps of another player borrowed by the Latics – Liverpool’s James Balagizi. He has barely played for his loan club, and Maloney admitted the Rekik situation feels similar.
“The same thing happened with James Balagizi and Liverpool, and most of the loan boys do. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see him (Rekik) again before the New Year, which is a shame…it’s not great news.”
Rekik is due to depart Wigan on January 21st, and as yet, there are no firm plans in place for his return.
The 21-year-old has had an eclectic career so far – born in Scheveningen, one of the districts of The Hague, he played for Feyenoord, Man City, PSV, Hertha Berlin, and finally Arsenal as a youth. He appeared for Hertha’s B team before a move to the Emirates, where he has failed to break through.
He has enjoyed loan spells in the Netherlands, firstly with Sparta Rotterdam and latterly with Jong Sparta, before joining Wigan at the tail end of last season. He returned following their relegation to League One for a second spell.
He has represented Tunisia at Under 21 level and the Netherlands at Under 18, before appearing for the senior Tunisian side against Mali in June 2021.
Wigan have a strong squad, and whilst losing Rekik in the short-term is a blow, it won’t significantly dampen their efforts to climb the League One table. Nine starts is decent enough, but it underlines how he’s been on the cusp of the first team rather than a key component of it. On Saturday, without him, they kept Lincoln at bay with relevant ease.
Whilst there are no plans currently for him to return, it shouldn’t be ruled out. He’s unlikely to appear for Arsenal, and whilst they may covet a Championship loan for him, it’s hard to see a team at that level taking a punt when he’s been decent but not outstanding in League One.
A return to the third tier seems likely, and if that’s the case, then why not Wigan if the desire is there? Much depends on the severity of his injury, but whilst a departure is planned now, it feels like more a case of ‘see you later’ than ‘thanks for the memories.’