As Arsenal prepare for Premier League action against Brentford at the weekend, Brooke Norton-Cuffy has been busy shining in League One.
The defender is currently on loan at Lincoln City, earning valuable first-team experience as he bids to show Gunners manager Mikel Arteta that he’s ready to play a key role at the Emirates Stadium at some point in the future.
If the Spaniard needed a reminder of how talented the Arsenal teenager is, he just needs to read the Lincoln match report from Tuesday night’s 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Doncaster Rovers.
Despite the loss, two moments of quality from the ‘almost unstoppable’ Norton-Cuffy were highlighted.
“Brooke Norton-Cuffy was almost unstoppable on the right from the start,” the report reads. “Late in the first half he made an incredible individual run, weaving through the defence before making a pinpoint cross to Maguire in the centre of the box.
“In the 63rd minute, Norton-Cuffy made another tenacious run down the right-wing and into the centre of the box. His in-swinging shot went inches wide of the post.”
This display comes on the back of Norton-Cuffy being named man of the match by fans on his first start for the Imps as they claimed a valuable point against promotion-chasing Wycombe last weekend.
It’s now five senior appearances for the 18-year-old and early signs suggest this loan spell will be beneficial for his development amid hopes of becoming the next Hale End product to break into the first-team.
Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe can be Norton Cuffy’s inspiration as they are the two standout academy graduates who are regulars under Arteta and also full England international’s.
Meanwhile, Miguel Azeez, Charlie Patino, Ben Cottrell and Folarin Balogun have all made their senior debuts at some point during the Spaniard’s 26-month reign as manager.
In terms of Norton-Cuffy’s chances of becoming an Arsenal first-team player in the future, he has strong competition from another talented right-back/ right-wing back in the academy in Ryan Alebiosu who is also spending the second half of the season out on loan.
Prior to joining Crewe Alexandra, Alebiosu had been impressing for the under-23 side, weighing in with one goal and seven assists across 14 appearances to catch the eye of Arteta as he was named on the bench for first-team games against Liverpool and Burnley last month.
Should Hector Bellerin leave in the summer and Cedric Soares not exactly getting any younger, the Gunners are going to need to find the perfect back-up to Takehiro Tomiyasu within the next couple of years.
At present, Arsenal can look to promote from within rather than spend millions of pounds in the transfer market as Norton-Cuffy and Alebiosu appear to be developing at a steady pace.
If one can make the step up then Gunners fans will have a new homegrown favourite to chant about on matchdays.