From Osei-Tutu to Norton-Cuffy – Arsenal’s five talented young right-backs

Arsenal’s current first-choice right-back, Hector Bellerin, made the progression from being a scholar to the first-team squad, and there is a quintet of players in that position in the academy setup at present who are aiming to follow the same path.

Jordi Osei-Tutu

The most high-profile of these five players, Osei-Tutu is 22 years old and, as such, a decision on his future at Arsenal will surely have to be made soon.

Signed from Reading as a scholar, he produced some excellent performances for the U23s and was called up to the first-team squad but has yet to make his competitive debut.

The feeling persists that Osei-Tutu, a dependable performer who can also operate on the right wing, should have been given an opportunity in the 2018/19 campaign, but he was overlooked and subsequently had a loan spell with VfL Bochum in the following season which he finished with a flourish.

This campaign Osei-Tutu has been on loan at Cardiff City but has been unable to build up any momentum due to injury. With Cedric Soares tied to a long-term contract, Osei-Tutu could be forgiven for thinking that his future lies away from Arsenal, but he will be determined to finish the season strongly with Cardiff in any case.

Zak Swanson

Swanson has experienced a real rollercoaster of emotions over the past couple of seasons.

Last season couldn’t have gone much better for the former winger as he produced some outstanding performances for the U23s, which included dealing with the considerable threat of Leroy Sane.

Swanson ended last season by training regularly with the first-team during Project Restart, and he was then sent on loan to MVV Maastricht in the Dutch second tier, which appeared, at first glance at least, to be a rather unusual destination.

That is what transpired, with Swanson struggling to settle at Maastricht, while homesickness was also a key factor behind him being recalled early by Arsenal.

To make matters worse Swanson has now suffered a serious injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for a prolonged period and will prevent him from going out on loan again this month.

Arsenal still have much faith in the 20-year-old, however, and are reportedly set to offer him a new contract.

Ryan Alebiosu

Like both Osei-Tutu and Swanson, Alebiosu is another player who made the successful transition from a winger to a right-back.

During his first couple of years as a scholar there were serious question marks about Alebiosu as his performances were often underwhelming, while he didn’t appear to have the strength to deal with some opponents.

Now, though, the youngster has developed physically and has produced some hugely impressive performances for the U23s, demonstrating that his tactical awareness has improved significantly.

Alebiosu, who has also demonstrated that he can play as a left-back if required, has been training regularly with the first-team in recent weeks and has caught the eye of Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff.

Daniel Oyegoke

An England youth international, Oyegoke has long been seen as a very exciting prospect for the future.

In pre-season, despite the fact that he has yet to sign a professional contract, the youngster featured for the first-team against MK Dons, while he was also involved in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the training ground as he showed that he can fill in at centre-back.

Quick and skilful, Oyegoke is an effective crosser and he was impressive for the U23s in the early stages of the campaign before injury struck.

Oyegoke is now closing in on a return to action and will be determined to win his place in the side back as quickly as possible.

Brooke Norton-Cuffy

Norton-Cuffy doesn’t turn 17 until later this month but he has already made a handful of appearances for the U23s.

A diligent performer, he often closes opponents down well and also poses a major threat going forwards.

The youngster will hope to be offered a professional contract in the near future and while he may still have to play some games for the U18s, he will be looking to show that he should mainly be involved with the U23s.


  1. Nice one Jeorge! Once again you have sent The Athletic to the bench.
    Need to follow up on this breaking news that the Saliba deal might include an option for an extra year. A bit different from what is being put forward by the club.

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