When assessing Arsenal’s current first-team squad, one of the standout concerns is the lack of backup options at right-back.
Hector Bellerin is firmly established as the club’s first-choice in that position, but, although Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles could fill in there if required, the alternatives are rather limited should the Spaniard have to endure spell on the sidelines.
Thankfully, Arsenal have a very talented right-back in their U23 squad, with Jordi Osei-Tutu having made significant strides in his development this season.
Signed from Reading in 2015 as a 16-year-old, Osei-Tutu went on to establish himself as a regular for Arsenal U18s and struggled with his positioning at times but also showed some glimpses of the undoubted quality that he possesses.
This season Osei-Tutu has stepped up to the U23s and has thrived, producing a series of consistent performances for Steve Gatting’s title-chasing team.
Although they have now moved away from the system, for much of the campaign Arsenal U23s have operated with a 3-4-2-1 formation, which especially suited Osei-Tutu as he was able to push forwards frequently from right wing-back and provide an attacking threat.
Indeed, Osei-Tutu has scored twice for the U23s this season, including a crucial strike in the victory over Manchester City.
It is defensively, however, where the prospect has made the most progress as he has become a much more dependable player who makes interceptions with regularity and can use his strength to excellent effect.
Osei-Tutu’s development hasn’t gone unnoticed by Arsene Wenger, who has named him as a substitute in the FA Cup, the Europa League and the Carabao Cup this season.
Although he has yet to make his competitive debut, there is a good chance that Osei-Tutu will feature for the first-team in some capacity next season, while he could also benefit from a loan spell at some point.
Arsenal need a player who can put pressure on Bellerin and challenge him for his place, and the evidence suggests that Osei-Tutu could eventually be the individual to fill that void, while he appears ready to step up at short notice at an earlier juncture if needed.
It is hoped that Osei-Tutu will help Arsenal to glory in Premier League 2 this season, but the biggest accolade for the youngster would be to establish himself in the first-team squad.