Sport Soccer

Sunday 18 March 2018

Boy Wonder has Arsenal supporters on their feet

Arsenal 1-0 Wolfsburg

Jeff Reine-Adelaide showed great promise against Wolfsburg
Jeff Reine-Adelaide showed great promise against Wolfsburg

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal supporters arrived yesterday at the Emirates Stadium desperate to welcome a man who has done it all in English football, but left talking about a summer signing whose career has only just started.

With Petr Cech barely having a shot to save it was Jeff Reine--Adelaide, a 17-year-old arrival from the Lens academy, who unexpectedly shone against Wolfsburg in what was Arsenal's fourth successive win and second minor trophy of the summer.

Arsene Wenger confirmed later that Reine-Adelaide would not be permitted to go out on loan this season and confirmed positive progress with Theo Walcott in talks over a new contract.

Reine-Adelaide's chances may realistically be limited to the domestic cup competitions once Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck are again available but he was unfazed yesterday by a crowd of almost 60,000 in his first senior start at Arsenal.

His pace and willingness to run at opponents was quickly evident down the left but it was then his calmness on the ball and precise pass that opened the Wolfsburg defence for Walcott's winning goal.

Reine-Adelaide can play across the attacking midfield positions and, asked if he planned to keep him with the first-team group this season, Wenger said: "Definitely. Reine-Adelaide is something special, you know.

"He needs to work with us for a year. He needs to be in and out, play with the U-21s and to develop. There's fantastic potential there and he will stay with us. We have had a good opportunity to watch him.

"In some situations he has the game of a 17-year-old but, on the other hand, he has shown great potential as well. Physically he is very advanced and I'm sure he has learned a lot from these two days."

Walcott also continues to learn about his best position and, having started the game as a central striker, scored his goal after moving out to the right.

Walcott later also played on the left and Wenger appears confident that he will soon agree a contract extension that will keep him at the club beyond his 30th birthday.

A new three-year deal has not yet been signed but both sides have talked positively about the situation.

Walcott said during the club's pre-season tour of Singapore that he wanted to stay and that he was sure it would not be long, with that message now echoed by Wenger.

"We are getting closer and closer and hopefully we can finalise it very soon," he said.

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