Pre-season is generally the time when clubs try to fit the players – old and new, in their system. Pre-season is also the time when players try to impress their managers in a bid to earn a place in the long-term plans. This isn’t anything strange or different. This year Arsenal’s pre-season tour to Singapore will see Arsene Wenger taking players of huge potential.
Dan Crowley, Chris Willock, Gedion Zelalem, Alex Iwobi, Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide were included in the touring party. These youngsters are looked upon by many across the continent as players for the future. And Wenger is eager to give them the chance; that one chance that can differentiate potential and skill.
Interestingly of all these youngsters, the inclusion of Reine-Adelaide is the one that could be significant. The signing of Petr Cech signalled the intent of Wenger to look at an immediate solution to trophies. No one will ever doubt that Cech is a short term solution. He is not a youngster who can be integrated with the academy or can boast to have 10 years with the club.
That credit should go to the signings of Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune who were brought from Lens. The Lens academy is much acclaimed and the purchase of these two talented youngsters is completed for a combined fee of around £3 million. Of course, the words ‘talent’, ‘potential’ and ‘transfer fee’ are more bloated than what they ideally should be.
But, Reine-Adelaide and Fortune aren’t your regular young stars. Reine-Adelaide was also wanted by Newcastle United this summer and was heavily linked with Barcelona. Fortune, on the other hand, attracted the interest of Manchester United. In the end it was Arsenal who beat all of them to the signatures of these gifted players.
Reine-Adelaide is rated as one of the best young players in France. He just turned 17 in January and was part of the France Under-17 team that won the European Championship. He plays across the attacking midfield positions but Wenger already sees him as a central midfielder.
For the manager, the comparisons with Aaron Ramsey are already there and Wenger believes that Reine-Adelaide can develop into a complete player. He is already one of the most talked about young players in France. The reputation of Wenger and his fame in integrating young players to the main team swayed his decision to join Arsenal.
Pre-season could be the first time Gunners fans see the potential of Reine-Adelaide. It could be the first of many.
This pre-season tour could be the guide to what’s in store.