There wasn’t a great amount of hype when Jeff Reine-Adelaide joined Arsenal, with much of the focus instead being on his compatriot Yassin Fortune, who arrived with him from Lens around the same time.
Soon, though, Reine-Adelaide provided some tantalising glimpses of his ability – a clever flick in the Emirates Cup, an assist for Theo Walcott against Wolfsburg in the same competition – suggesting that he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him.
As a consequence of how highly rated he is within the club, Reine-Adelaide was officially promoted to the first-team squad ahead of this season and produced an encouraging display in the victory over Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup.
Against Southampton on Wednesday night, however, Reine-Adelaide was rather unconvincing and was pushed off the ball too easily.
It is certainly worth mentioning that very few Arsenal players gave a positive account of themselves in that fixture, but it will also have served as a warning to Reine-Adelaide that he still has some way to go in his development before he can be considered ready to challenge for a regular starting berth.
The youngster’s progress this season certainly hasn’t been helped by the fact that he has barely featured at any level. As he has often had to travel with the first-team to matches (sometimes as a back-up option in case there is a late withdrawal from the squad) Reine-Adelaide has made just one appearance for Arsenal’s U23 side this campaign, while he has only featured twice in the UEFA Youth League.
Although he started all three of Arsenal’s EFL Cup fixtures, Reine-Adelaide’s aforementioned lack of game time certainly hasn’t been of benefit to him. The 18-year-old could certainly do with a regular run of games at youth level, while it also remains unclear as to what his best position is – he can play on the right flank, as a central midfielder or in a slightly more advanced role.
To be part of the Arsenal first-team squad at his age is a tremendous achievement, but Reine-Adelaide still needs to be playing youth football in order for him to develop further.
The next time he features prominently in the first-team could well be in the FA Cup but, before then, it would be best for all concerned if Reine-Adelaide was to receive some playing time for Arsenal’s development sides.