When you think of Tom Cruise, the pint-sized Hollywood star and Scientology fanatic that has starred in films like Top Gun and the Mission Impossible series springs to mind. But Arsenal also have a Tom Cruise in their ranks – and before you ask, the American hasn’t swapped acting for “soccerball” after spending a bit too much time with best mate David Beckham. The Arsenal youngster is a 19 year old defender that impressed Arsene Wenger enough for the Frenchman to name Cruise in his Champions League squad and select him in the starting line up against Olympiakos in December.
All Tom Cruise jokes aside, the Arsenal youngster has the potential to be a good player for the club. Wenger said of the full back when he gave him his debut in December:
“For me there is only one Tom Cruise – the one who plays for Arsenal Football Club – and he is a very good player.
I don’t care about headlines. Headlines or not Tom Cruise will play at left back. I would not like him to be under too much pressure. But I believe he is a very good footballer.”
Most of the hype around the Arsenal defender is because of his name, with the youngster saying:
‘I have definitely had stick because of my name for years. All the staff keep on coming up with names the films Tom Cruise has starred in but I just take it on the chin.’
He may share the name with a worldwide movie star, but Cruise deserves the recognition he is getting for his performances over the last year. One of the most improved youngsters in the Under 18’s last season, who completed a league and cup double last year, Cruise has made the transition to the reserves with ease and regularly starts at left back, appearing in 7 games for the reserves this season, who are second in the league.
With a great work rate, strength, pace and clinical distribution, the 19 year old has all the required attributes of a modern day full-back and can also play at centre back, having played there for the Arsenal academy. Cruise has represented England at U-16, U-17 and U-19 level and his performances in the reserves earned the youngster a contract extension, which he signed in February.
To date, the only appearance Cruise has made for the first team was in the defeat by Olympiakos, but he has been tipped to make a few Carling Cup appearances for Arsenal next season. The only obstacle in Cruise’s way is the presence of Kieran Gibbs and Gael Clichy at the left back position for Arsenal. Clichy is first choice and with Gibbs possessing more experience of the two youngsters, he will be given more chances to impress when he returns from injury. Cruise may have to follow in the footsteps of Jack Wilshere and move to a Championship or Premier League club in the lower half of the table in order to experience regular first team football, which will give us a better indication of how good the Islington-born youngster can be.
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