Reuell Walters of Arsenal U18s after the Final of the FA Youth Cup between Arsenal U18's and West Ham Utd U18's at the Emirates Stadium

Zinchenko names Arsenal’s best prospect – they nicked him from Spurs & he could be their Timber replacement

After Jurrien Timber was forced off with a torn ACL on his Premier League debut, Arsenal fans had every right to fear for their fortunes this season. That was until the emergence of a certain teenage defensive anomaly.

The Dutchman arrived to much fanfare following his £38million transfer from Ajax and you can understand why. In an era where teams can only reach the top of the mountain by passing the opposition to death, Timber is the embodiment of the ultimate modern defender.

We don’t mean that in a bad way, either. Destroyed ACL aside for a moment, Timber has all the tools to become an all-time defender for Arsenal. But that potential won’t carry them through the 2023-24 season while he’s out trying to recover.

Gunners are keen to see their club dip back into the transfer market one more time, but we’ve got proof that they really don’t need to. Not to sound too much like your mum insisting that there’s a pizza at home in the fridge instead of ordering takeaway, but seriously, hear us out.

Reuell Walters is the name and being a genetic freak in footballing terms is the game. It’s not just us that think so, either. Ask Oleksandr Zinchenko and he’ll chew your ear off about the teenager.

Speaking on Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel about who at Arsenal he thinks has the most potential, he went straight for young Walters, adding: “I swear to god, once he pushed Gabriel Jesus shoulder to shoulder, it’s not easy to push Gabi, yeah. He was confident on the ball after. He kept the ball well. Wow, he impressed me the most.”

To be shoving established senior footballers off the ball – to the point where one of the other senior lads is looking over his shoulder – is pretty frightening. What is this kid putting on top of his Weetabix in a morning?

Whatever it is, double it up and give us a serving, because Walters is the truth. And it’s not just because he can hold his own from a physical perspective – his technical traits are equally as nauseating.

When he’s not waltzing his way over onto the first-team pitch from the under-23s and smashing into Mikel Arteta’s most expensive assets, he’s picking up the ball and making training hell for the rest of the team, because they can’t get it back off him.

We don’t want to get too technical and tactical and boring here, but the kid’s dribbling is off the scale. Operating between a full-back role and centre-back, it’s like he’s taken the best traits of Paolo Maldini – versatility, positioning, strength and speed – and combined them with years of watching Lionel Messi dribbling compilations.

Stop the world, we’re getting off. Since when were defenders able to do this, never mind 18-year-old prospects?

The universe was a much less intimidating place when a centre-back’s job consisted of finding row Z and committing as many counts of GBH as possible without being booked for a foul. But times have changed, and while it’s scary, we can get on board if it consists of Walters breaking into Arteta’s team this season and blessing the Premier League with his talent.

Walters profiles incredibly well alongside Timber and slots seamlessly into the gap he’s left in the first team but brings with him an unrelenting fearlessness, potential that saw him on the radar of Manchester United just a few years ago and of course an astonishing technical ability on the ball.

And better yet, Arsenal fans, you nabbed him right from under Spurs’ nose – he joined the club a year after his contract with Tottenham expired.

There are midfielders who can’t glide through the lines like he does in the above clip. If Arteta gives him the keys, Arsenal’s already watertight defence could become seriously generational.

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