Arsenal collected their second preseason trophy of the summer on Sunday afternoon in London. The Gunners first thrashed last season’s French league runners-up, Lyon, 6-0 on Saturday, and then beat the Bundesliga runners-up, Wolfsburg, 1-0 on Sunday to win their first Emirates Cup since 2010.
Although it is only a preseason tournament, the north London outfit looked in mid-season form at the weekend. While the usual Arsenal stars were shining bright, the team’s youngsters also handled themselves extremely well. Goalkeeper Emi Martinez and winger Alex Iwobi both performed exceptionally well, with Martinez keeping a clean sheet and making a few top notch saves against Lyon, and Iwobi scoring one of his team’s half dozen goals in the same match.
As impressive as the aforementioned duo looked, 17-year-old newcomer Jeff Reine-Adelaide stole the show. Following Arsenal’s first Emirates Cup match, manager Arsene Wenger praised the young Frenchman by saying, “Reine-Adelaide is something special you know. He is a great talent and when he came on you could see that – 17 years old let’s not forget that. In fact I don’t remember how I played at 17 but I didn’t play like that!”
After making a successful cameo on Saturday, Reine-Adelaide made the start against Wolfsburg and was even better than the day before. Yes, the 17-year-old started a little shaky, giving the ball away within the first few minutes of the match; however, once the youngster settled in (along with the rest of the Arsenal team), you could see why the legendary manager rates Reine-Adelaide so highly.
Topping off his first Emirates Stadium start, Reine-Adelaide provided a superb assist to striker Theo Walcott to give the Gunners the lead, and eventually the Emirates Cup trophy. The France U-17 player nearly recorded another assist, if not for a fine save from the Wolfsburg keeper later in the match.
Wenger claimed after the victory that Reine-Adelaide will not being going out on loan. “He will definitely be here,” Wenger stated. “He is 17 years old and looks very promising, but he needs to work with us now for a year with the first team, to play with the U21s and develop. There is a fantastic potential there and he will stay with us.”
“He looks very advanced physically and I’m sure that he has learnt a lot from these two days.”
Reine-Adelaide was brought in last month from French side Lens (who were relegated to Ligue 2) along with 16-year-old Yassin Fortune, for a combined fee of £3 million. Reine-Adelaide featured in France’s 2015 Euro U-17 Championship team and despite not scoring a goal in the competition, was included (along with fellow Arsenal youngster Chris Willock) in the Team of the Tournament.
The 17-year-old has been listed as both a midfielder and a forward by different publications. While Reine-Adelaide was mostly deployed out on the wing during the weekend’s matches, Wenger has stated that he believes the player can eventually move into a more central role with the club.
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