The season may not be over but for Jeff Reine-Adelaide it already is, with the prospect having been stopped in his tracks by an ankle injury that has ruled him out for six weeks.
As a consequence the France youth international will have plenty of time, during his rehabilitation, to outline the goals that he wants to achieve next season as part of his quest to eventually become an established first-team player at Arsenal.
This was Reine-Adelaide’s maiden season as a member of the Gunners’ senior squad, yet he ended up playing just as many times (six) for the U23s as he did for the first-team, which indicates that there is still some way to go before he can be considered a major part of the club’s plans.
Of those games that he played for the first-team, his standout performance came in the 5-0 thrashing of Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round when, paired with fellow youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles at the base of the midfield, Reine-Adelaide helped to dictate the tempo with some precise passes.
There were some more difficult moments, too, with the 19-year-old struggling in the next round of the FA Cup against Sutton United, while he also failed to make much of an impact in some of the youth team games that he featured in.
When watching Reine-Adelaide play it is striking just how tall he is, how immaculate his close control is and how incisive his passing can be. It is also notable that there are, inevitably, some areas for improvement, most pertinently his defensive work off the ball.
It is abundantly clear, however, that the former Lens player is an extremely exciting player – that much has been evident since his striking displays at the Emirates Cup almost two years ago.
Reine-Adelaide has used pre-season to his advantage in the past and, once fully fit, will seek to do so again this summer to show to the coaching staff that he can have a part to play for the first-team next season.
Chief amongst Reine-Adelaide’s objectives for the new campaign will be to make his Premier League debut. The starlet was on the bench in the league on seven occasions this season, following on from being included in the squad six times last campaign, each without actually making it onto the field.
A loan spell could be in the offing at some stage next season and, if such a scenario occurs, it will be hugely beneficial for Reine-Adelaide’s game in terms of rectifying those aforementioned defensive issues.
There also remains some uncertainty about what Reine-Adelaide’s best position is – he can play out wide, in central midfield or behind the striker – and the next campaign could well see him used more frequently in a set part of the pitch.
Next season should be very exciting for Reine-Adelaide and we will hopefully get to see more of one of the most highly-rated young players on Arsenal’s books.