Jeff Reine-Adelaide has been included in Arsenal's Champions League squad for the upcoming season by manager Arsene Wenger, as the 17-year-old pre-season star continues to make an impression early in his Gunners career.
Sky Sports reported the news, highlighting the teenager as one of the biggest surprises in the squad. Joel Campbell, who appeared destined to leave the club during the summer, was also selected.
Here's the full list, courtesy of Ryan Fatone:
Arsenal Champions League Squad!!! http://t.co/361zeL1Vmt2015-9-3 05:42:36
Reine-Adelaide is one of the few new faces who joined the club during the summer, and despite his young age, he immediately made a lasting an impression during a 1-0 friendly win over Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in the Emirates Cup.
During that match, he flashed all of the tools that make him such a magnificent prospect, including his strength and raw athleticism, and he assisted the only goal of the match.
Most fans and pundits probably assumed he and Yassin Fortune, who also joined the Gunners from Lens, would spend the season playing in Arsenal's youth setup, but it now seems Wenger may have bigger plans for Reine-Adelaide.
The Arsenal manager has faced some criticism from fans for his inactivity during the summer, particularly late in the transfer window. TV personality Piers Morgan put it this way:
Piers Morgan @piersmorgan
I just paid £2.30 for a coffee at Starbucks. I thus spent more than Wenger today. #afc2015-9-1 18:58:02
Arsenal did add Petr Cech, along with a number of youth players, including Reine-Adelaide, but fans likely expected more to arrive. The club was linked with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema throughout the summer, via ESPN FC, and a signing of that magnitude would have firmly established the Gunners as title challengers.
Instead, the likes of Manchester City spent big on established stars and now look like the favourites to win the title. Manchester United stole much of the attention on transfer deadline day by signing a talented young Frenchman of their own in Anthony Martial, per the club's official Twitter account.
Martial established himself as one of the top young talents at the striker position in Ligue 1 last year, and while the argument can be made the reported £36 million transfer fee is excessive, as Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe did, he does have incredible potential:
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But one of Wenger's biggest strengths has always been to recognise potential and talent earlier than others, perhaps best illustrated when he transformed Thierry Henry from a struggling winger at Juventus to a world-class striker at Arsenal. Sporting Intelligence wondered whether the criticism surrounding his lack of activity this summer will quiet down should Reine-Adelaide make good on his potential:
Nick Harris @sportingintel
Still, imagine if Jeff Reine-Adelaide turns out to be the new Anthony Martial. Wenger will have the last laugh on summer 2015 then.2015-9-1 17:27:27
Fans have learned by now that Wenger prefers to be cautious in terms of transfers unless he sees a deal that's simply too good to pass up, such as when he moved for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. With the new Premier League TV deal kicking in next year, he didn't join in on the summer madness, preferring to wait until that cash is actually in his pocket.
Whether that's the right choice will depend on how the youngsters progress, and by including Reine-Adelaide in his Champions League squad this early in his career, it's clear the teenager is on the right track.
Earning Wenger's trust is a massive first step toward building an Arsenal career, and Reine-Adelaide has managed to do so in a very short time. Patience is still a virtue when it comes to the young attacker, but his future looks promising.