By Jeorge Bird
There was once hope that Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill would be able to follow in the footsteps of Ashley Cole and Kieran Gibbs by progressing all the way through Arsenal’s academy system to become the club’s first-choice left-back.
Now, with his development having been slowed by injuries, the 19-year-old isn’t even currently certain whether he will still be an Arsenal player next season, with his current contract set to expire at the end of June.
Ormonde-Ottewill, who has been capped by England up to U19 level, seems likely to be granted an extended stay, perhaps by being offered a new one-year deal, but hopes that he could succeed Cole and Gibbs have been dampened by some inconsistent performances from the left-back.
Like most Arsenal youth players, Ormonde-Ottewill is comfortable on the ball. However, whilst he is capable of delivering precise crosses, often resulting in goalscoring opportunities for his team-mates, the Hale End product frequently squanders possession when in deeper positions as he regularly attempts to play clipped passes forwards that are all too easily cut out by the opposition.
Another concern regarding Ormonde-Ottewill is his positioning. This is a flaw that first came to light last season when his inability to keep in line with his fellow defenders led to Arsenal being put under pressure during high-profile youth team matches against Barcelona and Chelsea. A year later, Ormonde-Ottewill still hasn’t fully addressed this problem with his game and it is an issue that would be easily punished at senior level by more ruthless opponents.
Ormonde-Ottewill has missed much of the season through injury, but recently the youngster has re-established himself as the club’s first-choice left-back at U21 level. If he is still on Arsenal’s books next season then a loan spell, possibly to a League One club, seems likely.
Breaking through to the first-team squad seemed an achievable task for Ormonde-Ottewill just a couple of years ago, with the defender having trained with Arsene Wenger’s side on several occasions. However, he hasn’t progressed quite as expected and, although he should still be able to carve out a career at a relatively high level, time is running out for him to make the cut at Arsenal.