By Walter Broeckx with additional material by Tony Attwood
We’ve already published an article on the squad for the Asia Trophy, so I will not go in to the names of the already known players but will stick to some of the more unknown players that will join the big boys on this trip.
And one of them is a newcomer. Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who is currently 17 and who came over from French side Lens this summer will be with the big boys. He is an attacking midfielder and has just won the European U-17 championship with France. Looking forward to see you Jeff ‘reign’ midfield.
Jeff-Reine Adelaïde was born on the 17th January 1998 at Champigny-sur-Marne and was in the France U17s beat side that beat Germany 4-1 recently. The last France U17s team that did this included Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri and Benoit Costil.
Adelaïde began like most youngsters playing for his local team, before being noted by RC Lens’ youth academy.
Writing about him RC Lens expert and journalist Romain Scheers was quoted on GetFootballNewsFrance as saying that he is “Swift, pacey and with a frightening change of pace,” and that “Adelaïde excels at beating his man. He often plays in an attacking midfield role just behind the main forward. The youngster has 9 caps with France U17s, scoring once in the process, and one cap with the U16s.
“At the age of just 16, he had already played 7 games of the reserve team on top of his matches with the U19s. This season, Lens boss Antoine Kombouaré, in charge of the first team, called him up the the first team squad in the 33rd game of the Ligue 1 season against Metz.”
Moving on, a more familiar name is Chuba Akpom. A few rumours that he might leave for a whole season on loan for the moment but let us see how he can perform with the big boys. I would love it if he would make it directly in to the Arsenal first team without any loan. Whenever I saw him in the short time he got last season he looked very promising and exciting and he could be an amazing forward if he can make that last step up. I know that is the most difficult step to make and it is where a lot of them stumble and never recover. But somehow I think Chuba is the one that can make it in the most difficult position there is.
And of course a name that has been burning on a few lips since a while will be also on the plane: Dan Crowley. One that has gotten me excited on the few occasions I could watch the youth teams from Arsenal play. A dribbling wizard, good goal scorer, excellent free kick taker, one of the hottest talents in English football.
He has a small frame but I think after having seen Messi shine for Barcelona that shouldn’t matter any more. And if you really want examples closer to home…why don’t we take Alexis who is smaller than Messi as an example. And if you really are not convinced about it and you demand more height why don’t you take Santi Cazorla. 1.65 meter but he really can dominate matches.
And besides that Crowley has had a bit of a late grow period it seems as he is now being said to be 1.74 meters and that is not that bad. Hell, he is even bigger than me. Just.
Alex Iwobi is also on the list of the younger players. He has been with Arsenal since he was eight, and hasn’t had many headlines till now to be honest (well not that I have seen them) so he is a bit of an unknown player for me. I have seen him score a few goals on the short clips on arsenal.com from the youth matches but that doesn’t give you a real clue of who he is and what he can do.
What people do say is that he is incredibly versatile, he has turned down the chance of playing for England to play for Nigeria, his idol is Kanu, and his uncle is former Bolton and Hull City player Jay-Jay Okocha.
Also on the tour will be two players that we have seen already in pre-season. Gedion Zelalem is a name that we have heard for the first time 2 seasons ago. He was amazing then and I admit I had hoped to see him on a higher level by now. I don’t know what has held him back but it seems that he didn’t progress as expected. Or was he being trained to play in another way and was he having difficulties on adapting to a new position and a new way of playing? With Gedion being 18 now the time is there to really make steps forward. But he faces a lot of competition from some of the best players in the world in his position.
And we also have Chris Willock on the plane. Chris played in the first match of last season when we Boreham Wood. But after that I didn’t really hear a lot about him to be honest. But he is only 17 years old so he still has a bit of time to learn the job. And as a winger his way looks a bit blocked by that bloke from Chile who just won a big cup so maybe better for him to learn a bit from Alexis and be patient.
If I remember it correctly the team will fly out next Sunday and then we will play against the Signapore XI on Wednesday. On the official website I have seen that there is a Sky Sports sign on this match so for people in England I think it will be shown live on Sky. I think it is a pity that Arsenal.com will only have it on their audio player and will not be screening it live. I do hope that Arsenal realise that there are a few million Gooners out there in the world who don’t have access to Sky and would have loved to see the match in good conditions on our own Arsenal player.
Arsenal only play 4 matches before things really start with the CS match against Chelsea so they better hit the ground running I would say.
- 9 July 1999: Barnet 1 Arsenal 6. Arsenal started a three year sponsorship with
SEGA worth £10m, with this match.