“He has the potential to do whatever he wants.”
Those were the words of Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta when he was quizzed on young talent Reiss Nelson just three weeks after taking charge of the managerial hot-seat back in January 2020.
Fast forward more than 18 months and Nelson has played less than 1000 minutes under the Spaniard’s stewardship, a tally that is much lower than what Gunners’ fans would have hoped for when the youngster broke into the first team back in the summer of 2017.
Ask any Arsenal fan back then what Hale End player they are most excited about and you wouldn’t have heard Emile Smith Rowe or Bukayo Saka, instead, you would have been lectured on English winger Reiss Nelson and his sky-high potential.
The 21-year-old enjoyed an extremely productive loan spell with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim during the 2018/19 season, bagging seven goals and one assist under the tutelage of German coach Julian Nagelsmann, impressive numbers considering he only started on five occasions during the course of the campaign.
Nelson had taken inspiration from his childhood teammate and friend Jadon Sancho, who decided to ply his trade in Germany and develop into a better player in the summer of 2017.
“Reiss was always ahead of Jadon – even up until this year,” their former youth coach Sayce Holmes-Lewis told Sky Sports back in 2018.
However, the two have since had two very different career paths. Sancho is coming off the back of a 16 goal 20 assist season with Borussia Dortmund, earning himself a £72.9million move to Manchester United earlier this month – making him the second most expensive Englishman in history.
Comparatively, Nelson failed to manage a single Premier League start last term, featuring just twice off the bench in the English top-flight.
football.london understands that Greek side Olympiacos have expressed their interest in signing Nelson, but the youngster still has time to revive his career at the Emirates if he follows in the footsteps of fellow Hale End graduate Joe Willock.
Willock spent the second half of last season on loan with Newcastle United, ending the campaign by scoring in seven consecutive league games, equalling former Magpies’ frontman Alan Shearer’s record.
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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The 21-year-old greatly benefited from regular first-team football at a Premier League club, forcing his way back into Mikel Arteta’s long-term plans, something that Nelson should opt to do this summer.
The tricky winger has previously been linked with the likes of Crystal Palace and Norwich and perhaps the Canaries would offer a suitable destination given he has a chance of replacing Emi Buendia on the right-wing, who recently joined Aston Villa for £35million.
Furthermore, Daniel Farke’s side play an attractive brand of football, which is something that could benefit Nelson as he would be given more freedom to get forward and showcase his attacking talent.
Under the right conditions, the England under-21 international could greatly benefit from a loan spell in the English top-flight as he looks to fulfil his sky-high potential and become a consistent goal scoring winger for the Gunners