When it comes to his future at Arsenal Football Club, Jordi Osei-Tutu’s late-season success at VfL Bochum raises more questions than answers.
When Arsenal agreed to a season-long loan deal with VfL Bochum for Jordi Osei-Tutu, they probably did not anticipate that the 21-year-old, who primarily operated as a right-back with the club’s U18s and U23s, would thrive in a more advanced role. However, rather than solidifying his future in North London, his 2. Bundesliga achievements arguably made it more unclear.
Osei-Tutu’s German loan spell was not all plain sailing. During a preseason game against FC St. Gallen, he was the subject of racist abuse which left him visibly angry and distressed. He valiantly overcame that trauma and began the competitive campaign as Robin Dutt’s primary right-back. But the difficulties did not stop there.
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Dutt was sacked in early September after Bochum failed to win any of their first four league games and was succeeded by Thomas Reis. Osei-Tutu, who appeared in each of the first five games of the season, played only 227 minutes in the next 18 contests.
In time, though, Osei-Tutu became an integral part of Reis’ side. He directly contributed to seven goals in the final eleven league games of the season, all of which he started. Although raw, Osei-Tutu displayed elite athleticism, composure, dynamism, intelligence, and the ability to use both feet effectively in the games following 2. Bundesliga’s restart.
With this production and high level of performance, the former Reading starlet has reached a watershed moment in his career. On the surface, a permanent departure seems likely. Arsenal have several options both on the wing and at right-back and Osei-Tutu needs minutes to further his professional career. And yet, there is a possibility that he eventually creates a role for himself in north London.
He signed a contract extension before joining Bochum until the summer of 2023 so Arsenal could sanction another loan deal to a club in a more reputable division than the 2. Bundesliga. Bochum reportedly beat numerous Championship sides to secure Osei-Tutu’s temporary arrival, and a non-permanent move to the English second tier would represent a fantastic challenge.
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It would also satisfy Osei-Tutu’s desire for greater playing opportunities, whilst giving Arsenal the chance to verify that he has the requisite technical ability to succeed in the Premier League. Such an agreement would establish whether his late-season production was an anomaly or an indicator of future success. The sample size was small, meaning genuine conclusions are difficult to draw, but Arsenal cannot prematurely offload a prolific goal contributor as that is something they severely lack.
Furthermore, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has departed, Mesut Ozil does not have a long-term future at the club, central midfield could be Bukayo Saka’s long-term position, and the futures of Hector Bellerin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette are all ambiguous. Provided that his rich vein of form continues into next season, Osei-Tutu could become a valuable contributor in the not too distant future.
While his first foray into senior football was turbulent, the late-season performances undoubtedly caught the attention of the Arsenal fanbase and hierarchy. At present, it is too soon to tell whether he can become a worthy member of the first-team squad. But he has given himself a chance. Do not discount Jordi Osei-Tutu just yet.