Where does the future of Reiss Nelson lie?
By Rob Worthington
After a successful loan spell in the Bundesliga last year at Hoffenheim, which consisted of an impressive 7 goals in 23 matches and the collection of October 2018’s Bundesliga ‘rookie of the month award’, Reiss Nelson’s future at Arsenal was beginning to look bright. However, due to a mixture of a lack of playing time and injuries, the youngster’s progress has somewhat stagnated this campaign.
Arsenal are thus left with the huge responsibility of bringing the best out of someone who was considered one of the most promising young Premier League talents when he broke onto the scene in 2017. Someone who was widely considered to be a better prospect than Jadon Sancho when the pair were playing in the same London youth footballing system.
For this remainder of this season, the obvious solution would be to give Nelson as many opportunities as we can in the Europa League and the FA Cup whilst also giving him opportunities in League games if he impresses in these competitions. At the same time, the onus is on our number 24 to build a strong relationship with Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard has a reputation for improving wide attackers and one-to-one, detailed training from Arteta could be the making of the Englishman.
Come the end of the season, depending on his progress under Arteta between now and this campaign’s conclusion, a huge decision has to be made. Keep, loan or sell? On the one hand, we can help develp him, which may see limitations in his game time in the short-term, but allow him to thrive under the tutorage of our head coach in the future. A loan, which guarantees him increased game time, is another possibility for Nelson, but it may portray a lack of faith in him from the club and demoralise the Hale End academy product. The final option would be to cash in on Nelson. In the inflated English transfer market, it is without question that we could demand a big fee 20-year-old, and this would represent good business considering we didn‘t have to pay anything for his services.
Nonetheless, I think there is too much potential in Reiss Nelson to simply ‘cash in’. He’s one of few natural wingers in this squad, which means he can often offer us something that we often lack. Additionally, in a squad with a limited number of homegrown players, it’s crucial that we keep players such as Nelson to stay within the quota. We also don’t want another Serge Gnabry-esque problem where Nelson develops into a top player elsewhere and we are left rueing the decision to let him go. The decision is clear for me. Keep Reiss Nelson, the talented youngster tipped to reach the top, as he deserves his chance to excel at Arsenal.