It only took an instant and an intelligent flick in the Emirates Cup for Jeff Reine-Adelaide to endear himself to Arsenal supporters, but the subsequent signs have suggested that faith wasn’t at all misplaced.
The French starlet has primarily featured out wide since joining Arsenal, either on the right flank or the left, but yesterday, at a bitterly cold London Colney, Reine-Adelaide provided some heart-warming evidence that he is also capable of thriving in the number ten position.
The youngster scored twice and set up the other goal for Donyell Malen as Arsenal established a 3-0 lead against Blackburn Rovers at U21 level.
The game ended 3-2, with Blackburn capitalising on some slack defending to reduce the deficit, but Reine-Adelaide’s performance, in front of the watching Arsene Wenger, was still the standout talking point from the game.
Since his involvement in the Emirates Cup in pre-season, Reine-Adelaide has been named as a substitute on eight occasions for the Arsenal first-team in competitive fixtures.
Each time he has remained unused, but that could be set to change, especially if Wenger decides to rotate his side for Saturday’s FA Cup 3rd round tie at home to Sunderland, with Mesut Ozil in need of a rest.
It was already anticipated that Reine-Adelaide, as one of the club’s brightest prospects, would play some part in proceedings against the Black Cats, but his display against Blackburn may just have enhanced his chances of receiving further game time.
Arsenal can’t afford to rest too many players as they begin their defence of the FA Cup, especially given that they are facing Premier League opposition, but there could be space for one youngster in the starting line-up, and, if he receives an opportunity, Reine-Adelaide will relish his chance to thrive.
It is important not to get too carried away, and he is certainly still raw with regards to some aspects of his game, but Reine-Adelaide is clearly extremely talented and he is also very highly regarded within the club given that he is so close to the first-team at just 17 years of age.
There was much to admire about Reine-Adelaide’s performance against Blackburn, as he played some astute passes and showcased his excellent dribbling. It was just a shame that the fixture was played behind closed doors and there wasn’t a wide audience to see it.
On Saturday Reine-Adelaide could well recieve a chance to impress in rather different surroundings.