The lowdown on Omar Rekik – Arsenal’s newest shrewd signing

Scott Polacek Manchester City FC

Arsenal officially confirmed the signing of teenage defender Omar Rekik from Hertha Berlin for a reported fee of £540,000 on Thursday.

The talented centre back is just 19-years-old – but has already found himself on the move once again after spending time on the books at Feyenoord, Manchester City, PSV Eindhoven and Marseille.

His nomadic career has taken another twist now at the Emirates, and Arsenal supporters will likely be unsure of what to expect from their newest addition.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look and answers all the burning questions…

Arsenal confirmed the signing of young defender Omar Rekik from Hertha Berlin on Thursday

Arsenal confirmed the signing of young defender Omar Rekik from Hertha Berlin on Thursday

Arsenal confirmed the signing of young defender Omar Rekik from Hertha Berlin on Thursday

Who is Omar Rekik?

Rekik was born in Holland and has gone on to represent both them and Tunisia on the international stage. 

He qualifies for the latter due to his father’s roots and opted to pull on the jersey for the nation of his family’s heritage over the country of his birth.

He began his fledgling career with Feyenoord’s youth academy in Rotterdam in before leaving for Manchester City a year later. Rekik turned out for the Etihad outfit’s younger ranks between 2012 and 2014.

Rekik, 19, was born in the Netherlands but now represents Tunisia on the international stage

Rekik, 19, was born in the Netherlands but now represents Tunisia on the international stage

Rekik, 19, was born in the Netherlands but now represents Tunisia on the international stage

A return home to Holland then beckoned in the form of PSV Eindhoven. The starlet soon moved to Marseille, however, and stayed for two more years.

His final club before joining Arsenal was Hertha, who signed him in 2017.  He initially turned out for their Under-17s team, but was eventually promoted to the U-19 ranks. 

Rekik represented the side in the UEFA Youth League in 2018-19, and took the step up to the club’s reserve team in the fourth tier in Germany this season. 

He failed to make a senior appearance for Hertha before moving on though, although he was named on the bench for the first team on three occasions.

The talented centre back has often posted photos of his travels around the world on Instagram

The talented centre back has often posted photos of his travels around the world on Instagram

The talented centre back has often posted photos of his travels around the world on Instagram

Where can he play?

Arsenal’s newest signing has been heavily tipped to enjoy a bright and successful career, largely in part due to his welcome versatility. 

Rekik is primarily a ball-playing centre back and has proven himself equally adept at either side of the position. He can also flourish in a holding midfield role. 

The youngster will compete alongside the likes of Jonathan Dinzeyi, Dan Ballard and Harry Clarke for a future starting berth – with the latter two currently out on loan.

A lack of experience in the centre of defence for the team appears to have been a crucial factor behind the signing.  

The starlet can play either side at centre back and has also been fielded as a holding midfielder

The starlet can play either side at centre back and has also been fielded as a holding midfielder

The starlet can play either side at centre back and has also been fielded as a holding midfielder

OMAR REKIK’S CAREER

Feyenoord – 2011-2012

Manchester City – 2012-2014

PSV Eindhoven – 2014-2015

Marseille – 2015-2017

Hertha Berlin – 2017-2021

Arsenal – 2021 

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Six different clubs already?

The nomadic nature of Rekik’s career will understandably raise some eyebrows. 

His switch to Arsenal is his sixth so far and supporters will hope the Emirates can now become his long-term home.

The youngster has largely followed closely in the footsteps of his older brother, Karim. 

Karim, 26, now on the books at Sevilla, has also played for Manchester City, PSV, Marseille and Hertha.

He made the switch to LaLiga last October.

Their career paths have now differed, however, with Omar joining Arsenal. 

His older sibling may have found it easier to break into first-team action over the years, but Omar has certainly caught the eye at youth level and is blessed with natural ability.

Karim Rekik, pictured with Hertha last September, is Omar's older brother and also a defender

Karim Rekik, pictured with Hertha last September, is Omar's older brother and also a defender

Karim Rekik, pictured with Hertha last September, is Omar’s older brother and also a defender

How did the move happen?

Rekik was caught on camera training with Arsenal’s U23s on Wednesday, before his move was officially confirmed. 

The gaffe led to the social media post being deleted and the announcement was soon released. 

When the switch was announced on Thursday afternoon, it was made clear that Rekik will initially remain in the club’s youth ranks.

Rekik is expected to initially stay in Arsenal's U23 set-up but will also train with the first team

Rekik is expected to initially stay in Arsenal's U23 set-up but will also train with the first team

Rekik is expected to initially stay in Arsenal’s U23 set-up but will also train with the first team

It is believed Rekik actually moved to London three weeks ago after penning his first professional contract.

Arsenal’s academy coach, Per Mertesacker, is claimed to have helped with negotiations to sign Rekik.

The now-retired former defender holds a close relationship with Arne Friedrich, the sporting director at Hertha, due to their time together on international duty with Germany. 

Their friendship ensured talks went smoothly. 

Arsenal academy coach Per Mertesacker is understood to have played a key role in the switch

Arsenal academy coach Per Mertesacker is understood to have played a key role in the switch

Arsenal academy coach Per Mertesacker is understood to have played a key role in the switch

Rekik’s terms at Hertha were set to run down this summer and there had been no intention on his part of renewing them. His club then promptly decided to sell him. 

Arsenal reached an agreement to sign the starlet for £900,000 on the final day of the summer window – but the move was not signed off in time.

With both parties forced to wait until this month, the fee came down to £540,000.

What can Arsenal fans expect?

Rekik gave his new club’s fanbase his opinion on where his strengths lie in a recently released interview.  

He said: ‘My style of play? I’m a central defender and I like to play with the ball.

‘I like to play out from the back, and I think this is also the structure of the club. It fits perfectly.’

At first glance, his nature does indeed blend seamlessly with the type of football on show at the Emirates across every level.

Rekik revealed to Arsenal's official website that his preferred style of playing out from the back

Rekik revealed to Arsenal's official website that his preferred style of playing out from the back

Rekik revealed to Arsenal’s official website that his preferred style of playing out from the back

It is expected Rekik will also occasionally with the first team – and it will be made clear in these sessions whether the prodigy will be able to take the step up soon.

Rekik is composed in possession, as the centre back himself admitted, and will be pivotal when Arsenal look to play out from their last line of defence this season. 

His experience gained from his travels may also translate on the field. 

Having spent time across various countries, Rekik was exposed to a wide range of contrasting styles and will be expected to exude calmness to those around him.

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