Rarely has there been such hype about a player who has yet to feature for the Arsenal first-team in a competitive match.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide was a relative unknown, at least as far as Arsenal supporters were concerned, when news filtered through that the club had agreed a deal to sign the winger, along with striker Yassin Fortune, from Lens in May.
The early signs had been extremely encouraging, with Reine-Adelaide impressing for France at the U17 European Championships before being provisionally selected to travel with Arsenal for the Premier League Asia Trophy only to be replaced by Jon Toral at the last moment.
Then came the weekend when the Reine-Adelaide hype train hit full force, with the 17-year-old making a stellar impact in the Emirates Cup. His cameo as a substitute on the Saturday against Lyon was encouraging, but his performance a day later against Wolfsburg, when he provided an assist for Theo Walcott, was even better, and prompted suggestions that Arsenal had in their grasp a player who, despite his tender years, could make a sizeable impact on the first-team squad this season.
Circumstances have conspired against Reine-Adelaide in the sense that he is yet to make his competitive debut for the club. An injury suffered whilst playing for the U21s against Newcastle United and his subsequent participation at the U17 World Cup meant that the French youngster wasn’t able to feature in Arsenal’s Capital One Cup campaign.
He has been on the bench for several recent first-team fixtures, but, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain poised to return to the squad in time for Sunday’s game against Norwich City, Reine-Adelaide will probably have to wait a little while longer before he makes his official debut.
That may not be a bad thing as it will enable Reine-Adelaide to feature in Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup tie at home to West Bromwich Albion a week today, whilst he could also be involved in the concluding UEFA Youth League group stage fixture away to Olympiacos.
Depending on the opposition, Reine-Adelaide could well be involved in the first-team’s FA Cup 3rd round tie, and, if there are any further injuries to attacking players in the first-team, the winger is likely to be first in line to step in, as he has seemingly edged ahead of Alex Iwobi in the pecking order at the club.
Much of the hype around Reine-Adelaide is justified. He is a sublime dribbler who is capable of going for goal himself, whilst he is also tactically astute. As you would expect with a player of his age, though, there are some aspects of his game which require improving, most notably his tendency to lose the ball at key moments.
Reine-Adelaide is undoubtedly a talent for the future and he may still be able to have some impact on the first-team scene this campaign, but it is just as important that during his first season in England he features as often as possible for the youth sides in order to build up his sharpness and to start to iron out the deficiencies in his game.
The hype is considerable, but, despite his clear ability, it is perhaps time to be patient with Jeff Reine-Adelaide.