As several members of Arsenal’s U23 squad made the trip to Serbia with the first-team this week for the Europa League game against Red Star Belgrade, Jeff Reine-Adelaide was left in England lamenting his misfortune after suffering yet another injury.
The 19-year-old is part of Arsenal’s first-team squad but has yet to play a senior game this season and he will now have to wait a little longer for an opportunity to fully establish himself in Arsene Wenger’s plans.
Reine-Adelaide’s pre-season preparations were heavily disrupted by an injury he suffered towards the end of last campaign and then, after an encouraging start for the U23s, the Frenchman saw his progress halted by another problem.
Having finally regained fitness, Reine-Adelaide returned to action for Arsenal U23s against Sunderland this week and, interestingly, was deployed as a left wing-back, despite only having very limited experience of playing in that position, indicating that he could well have been earmarked as a potential back-up option there for the first-team.
Although he struggled a little defensively Reine-Adelaide was very impressive going forwards in the opening stages of the game, but then, with just 20 minutes gone, he pulled up with another injury and had to be substituted.
If his latest setback hadn’t occurred then there is a good chance that Reine-Adelaide would have been on the plane to Serbia and in contention to play some part in the game.
As it has transpired, the prospect could well miss next week’s Carabao Cup game against Norwich City as his hugely frustrating start to the season continues.
Now in his third season at Arsenal, Reine-Adelaide’s potential has always been clear since his superb displays at the Emirates Cup shortly after his arrival.
Since then, however, his Arsenal career so far has been a tale of injuries and inconsistency. He has played eight times competitively for the first-team but has only really stood out on a couple of occasions – the FA Cup win against Southampton last season and the EFL Cup success against Nottingham Forest.
At youth level Reine-Adelaide’s form has frequently fluctuated. He has shown some tantalising glimpses of the quality he possesses, playing some slick passes and embarking upon some mazy dribbles, but on many occasions he has been unable to influence games – he has two goals and five assists in 26 appearances for the U23s in total.
There is no doubt that the talent is there with Reine-Adelaide and he is still at a rather early stage in his development but at some point he needs to start performing with greater consistency if he is to stand a chance of fulfilling his vast potential.
Injuries have played a part in preventing him from achieving that aim so far but if he can remain fit for a prolonged period then Reine-Adelaide really needs to show what he is capable of if he is given a chance in the first-team.
It seems that a loan move in January, provided he is sent to the right club and plays regularly, would be hugely beneficial for Reine-Adelaide at this point and would give him a fresh challenge, after which he could return to Arsenal fully prepared to compete for a regular place in the squad.