Arsenal’s Jeff Reine-Adélaïde arrived at the Emirates Stadium with a big reputation. The teenager left RC Lens in 2015 already a French youth international and immediately impressed. Combining pace, power and technical ability, he looked like a player destined for the first team. Now, at age 20, he has yet to make a league appearance for Arsenal.
A bad injury ruled him out for most of last season and brought his progress to a screeching halt. Other young prospects like Alex Iwobi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and Reiss Nelson overtook the Frenchman in the queue for first-team action. Reine-Adélaïde was shipped off back to France in January, this time with Angers SCO on a six-month loan. His Arsenal future appeared bleak, but Reine-Adélaïde has seized his chance at Angers, going from strength to strength. Now a regular starter, he is making a serious case for his involvement in the Arsenal first team next season.
Arsenal’s Jeff Reine-Adélaïde Excelling at Angers SCO
Arsenal‘s Jeff Reine-Adélaïde arrived at an Angers team in serious danger of relegation. The team was almost completely reliant on the prolific Karl Toko-Ekambi for goals and held a dismal home record. For any player, breaking into a side like this is no easy task. Down at the bottom, there are no margins for error. The coach, in this case the long-serving Stéphane Moulin, must have complete trust the players. Reine-Adélaïde’s debut came as a substitute in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of AS Monaco. With the game already lost, Moulin sent the Arsenal man on to get a taste of first-team action. Reine-Adélaïde made an immediate impact.
His direct and dangerous play put Monaco’s defence on edge, and he succeeded in winning several free kicks in dangerous areas. The Frenchman’s next appearance also came in defeat, this time at home to Sainte-Etienne. Once again, the Angers attack instantly bore more threat after Reine-Adélaïde’s entrance. It was becoming clear that he was knocking on the door for a spot in the first XI.
Reine-Adélaïde’s first start came in a crucial game away to Lille, a relegation rival. The decision to start the young loanee in such an important fixture shows home much he impressed in his first few weeks. Reine-Adélaïde put an excellent shift in, getting forward at every opportunity down the right wing. Yet, at the same time, he made sure to take up a defensive position when Angers were put under pressure. His clever one-touch pass started the move which led to Toko-Ekambi’s opening goal, leading Angers to victory. The attacker was rewarded with another start the following weekend, once again putting in a solid display.
Away to Bordeaux, the following week, Reine-Adélaïde put in his best performance to date. He completed 11 dribbles, more than any Under-23 player has managed in Europe’s top five leagues this season. He also won four tackles and was Man of the Match. Missing out against PSG through injury, Reine-Adélaïde returned to the starting line-up last Saturday at home to Caen, where Angers once again collected three points. He is now one of the first names on the team sheet, as well as a fan favourite. His reward is a first-ever call-up to the French U-20 side.
Arsenal’s Jeff Reine-Adélaïde has impressed so far, there is no disputing it. In a few short weeks he has gone from reserve to crucial player, and is Angers’ second highest rated player this season according to Whoscored.com. There is room for improvement, however. His final ball needs work, and despite his positive performances, he has yet to assist or score. He can sometimes be lazy when tracking back, and make questionable decisions in the defensive zones. It is also clear that he lacks the stamina to complete 90 minutes, and he often tires during the second half. Despite this, all Arsenal fans should be excited to see how he plays from now until the end of the season. The Gunners are crying out for a dynamic player who can beat opponents with speed and trickery; Reine-Adélaïde could be that player.
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