by Lewis Ambrose
Theo Walcott joined Arsenal from Southampton at the age of 16, so he knows what Jeff Reine-Adelaide is going through.
The Frenchman is a little older at 17, but arrives from RC Lens with a similar buzz following an impressive Emirates Cup display last weekend. The midfielder played very well and even managed to lay on the winning goal, which Walcott himself tucked away.
“For 17 he’s confident on the ball and he wants to express himself as well, which is important,” the England international said to Arsenal Player. “It’s always nice to see a young player not be shy on the ball. Even if he makes a mistake he wants it again, which is a good sign.
“Getting that assist at the weekend just shows he’s got that touch in the final third where it matters most, and he’s got a good physical presence about him.”
At over six foot Reine-Adelaide has a physique that Walcott didn’t have when he arrived at the club, and seems to have arrived more ready for first-team football than Walcott was when he joined back in 2006.
Arsène Wenger has already confirmed that the teenager won’t be loaned out this season, instead training under the guidance of Wenger, but Walcott insists it is important not to get carried away.
“The most important thing is not to put too much pressure on the young guy’s shoulders.
“He’s still got a lot to learn but he’s at the best club to do that with the best manager as well. He’s definitely got some skills and he’s very talented, I’ve got to admit.”
Staying at the club means Reine-Adelaide will be at the training ground with world class players every single day. It provides a big opportunity to learn but could also be daunting for a young player.
“I was completely starstruck when I first came here,” Walcott confessed. “He may be in the same boat as well.”
“It’s always quite surreal when you walk into the dressing room and you’re training with guys that you use to play as on FIFA.”
Within months Reine-Adelaide will be on FIFA himself which, I imagine, will be quite incredible. Sharing a dressing room with those players shouldn’t be an issue as the players will only help him get better.
“It may take a while just to get used to that but when he plays games he’ll forget about that because he knows he’s good enough to be here. That’s why he’s been given the opportunity to play and if he gets that in his head, he will go far.”
He didn’t seem to have a problem at the Emirates Cup last weekend and look like he was more than ready for the big stage already. That could change when people know a bit more about him and fans expect more of him but, as Walcott said, he is at the right club to deal with challenges like that.