He may not have scored, but almost everything that Donyell Malen did at Upton Park last night lent further credence to claims that Arsenal have an extremely exciting young talent on their books.
The 16-year-old, who appears to have, temporarily at least, fended off competition from Stephy Mavididi for a starting berth in Arsenal’s U21 side, showcased many of his key attributes in the 1-1 draw with West Ham United, as he demonstrated his pace, power and astute link-up play.
Ever since news filtered through that Malen was set to join from Ajax there has been an element of excitement about the forward, and so far that faith has certainly been well placed.
The Dutchman is superb at working space for himself, whilst when operating centrally he also often drifts into wide positions to excellent effect.
There have been some games this season when Malen has been rather anonymous, but last night’s match was not one of them as the striker was heavily involved in much of what was good about Arsenal’s attacking movements.
Perhaps it is an easy comparison to make, but there are elements of Malen’s game that call to mind Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, with both players capable of causing a multitude of problems for opposing defenders as a consequence of their unpredictability.
He isn’t even halfway through his first year as a scholar, yet Malen has already broken into Arsenal’s U21 squad, trained with the first-team on several occasions and also featured in the UEFA Youth League.
2016 promises to be another important year in his development with the youngster poised to sign his first professional contract, whilst, with many players set to be given a period of rest after Euro 2016, it isn’t out of the question that he could be involved with the first-team’s pre-season plans next summer.
Before then Malen will seek to gain as much playing time as possible for the U19s and the U21s, whilst he could also have a prominent part to play in the FA Youth Cup as Arsenal look to win that competition for the first time since 2009.
Malen may well be raw in some aspects of his game, but the talent is certainly there and the early signs are very encouraging indeed.