The 20-year old winger managed to make 24 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal throughout the 19/20 season – netting 3 goals and registering 3 assists in that period; a measly return for someone of such talent.
Although early into Mikel Arteta’s reign over Arsenal, it seemed like the novice manager was a big fan of the England U21 star. Fans of the club were quick to make comparisons between Arteta’s effect on Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané at Manchester City and the effect he would likely have on Nelson.
However, with the sudden emergence of teenager Bukayo Saka and record- signing Nicolas Pépé having an impressive end to the season, it saw a limited number of opportunities to impress for the young Reiss Nelson. Moreover, with the arrival of the experienced Brazilian international Willian from Chelsea in August; Reiss faces a vast amount of competition for a starting birth on either side of the Arsenal wings.
A SUCCESSFUL LOAN SPELL
The question now for Reiss Nelson and the Arsenal hierarchy of technical director Edu Gaspar and first-team manager Mikel Arteta, is what next? Reiss Nelson went on a very impressive loan to play under then Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann in the 2018/19 season – notching an astounding 7 goals in 23 Bundesliga appearances at the then age of 18. Deployed as an attacking midfielder stroke second striker under the enigmatic management of Nagelsmann, he was often seen as Hoffenheim’s best player.
Although, it became clear as the season progressed that the young German manager had a few problems with the England starlet. Having started the season so well, the majority of the 23 Bundesliga appearances he made came in the early season, after the German winter break and heading into 2019; Reiss Nelson was left out of a number of matchday squads as an ‘educational measure’ as Nagelsmann put it. It would appear from the outside that Reiss potentially had an attitude issue of some sort.
Having returned to Arsenal at the start of last season it looked as if-then Arsenal manager Unai Emery was a fan of the young English winger, starting Reiss in the opening two games of the season; but appearances in the league faltered away up until the arrival of Arteta. Outstanding performances against Chelsea in the league and netting the winner in the FA Cup against a very impressive Leeds United team signalled a feeling of hope amongst the Arsenal faithful that this could be the breakthrough season for the highly-rated winger.
WHAT NEXT FOR REISS NELSON?
For me, Reiss Nelson is most effective on the left of Arsenal’s front three. But the versatile forward can play on the right as well as an attacking midfield stroke centre forward behind the striker. This gives Nelson a number of ways into the Arsenal first team, but the left-wing and right-wing spots are particularly busy. Reiss would have to outperform Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left and also the two more experienced and extremely talented Willian and Nicolás Pépé on the right. With the backup wingers in Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli (who is due to return to full training before the end of the calendar year); Nelson will not get the needed minutes for his development.
For this reason, I believe Edu and Mikel Arteta should be exploring the possibility of sending Reiss on a season-long loan. But most importantly, this time is the need to send him to a club in the Premier League. Not only does he need game time but he needs the minutes in the Premier League so he can force himself into Arteta’s long-term plans. The newly signed Willian is 32 years of age now whilst Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now 31. There are potential places up for grabs for the 20-year-old if he can have a successful loan spell. In terms of where; clubs such as Crystal Palace have been touted as possible destinations for Reiss on loan. This would be an excellent choice for all those involved.
For me, selling Reiss Nelson is merely not an option. In the past, Arsenal as a club has seen youngsters such as Serge Gnabry allowed to leave the club to realise their full potential. Personally, if we were to let Reiss leave the club; this could be another one of those moments.