Arsenal’s season-ending Europa League defeat seems an eternity ago, and The Gunners finally got their pre-season up and running as a youthful XI played out a 3-3 draw against Boreham Wood on Saturday.
While the first team don’t get going until their run of games in the United States next week, the match was full of twists and turns – but there was one aspect of Arsenal’s comeback performance that suggests the club’s academy has one of the stars of the future on its books.
Teenage striker Tyreece John-Jules came off the bench to score twice in the second half – and further his case for becoming Arsenal’s latest star academy product.
John-Jules has a history of outshining his peers, and even demonstrated that amongst a far more experienced squad, when he scored the winner in Arsenal’s last friendly as they visited Al-Nasr in Dubai back in March during a warm-weather training camp in the United Arab Emirates.
And his prolific nature in front of goal suggests the 18-year-old has a natural ability to score – with an impressive record to boast about at international level, too.
So it seems that Arsenal could have the next big thing on their hands – and the way that he tucked away his first on Saturday into the far corner, you wouldn’t believe this guy is only 18.
As for the nonchalance of the penalty that followed not long after, his confidence is also of a level belying of his tender years.
And just when Arsenal’s attacking options may have looked bare, suddenly The Gunners approach the coming campaign with the new forward signing of Gabriel Martinelli and a potential Alexandre Lacazette understudy in John-Jules.
How the youth prospects develop will be up to the nurturing skills of Steve Bould, who led the side to the exciting draw at the weekend in his first game since taking over as academy boss after effectively swapping roles with Freddie Ljungberg.
Bould reiterated his main task is to develop the young talents and with that in mind, John-Jules could be in the running for a first-team opportunity in the near future.
Should injuries hit a minimal forward line that currently lists Alex Iwobi among its attackers according to the Arsenal website, John-Jules will surely be a candidate to step in if his progression finds new heights in the year ahead.
Based on the evidence of the first non-competitive match of the new season, there looks to be every hope that this kid will only get better.