Reiss Nelson’s Recent Form & Where The Youngster Fits Into Emery’s Plans


The future looks incredibly bright for Reiss Nelson. His recent form has been electric for Hoffenheim, and if he keeps it up, then Arsenal will be extremely tempted to use him next season. Often though, clubs are required to put short-term help, in front of long-term gains, in order to pacify a demanding fanbase.

Nelson has risen through the ranks at Arsenal

It is for this reason, amongst others, that opportunities for young English players in the Premier League are currently at a premium. This is often the case at any club, but most especiallyat any club that has finished in the top six over the last two seasons. While a number of young players – such as Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Morgan Gibbs-White –have taken their game to the next level in the English top flight, not everyoneis so fortunate.

Bundesliga: The new ‘development’ league?

In a bid to try and solve the issue of players rotting away in the reserves of Premier League clubs, loan spells abroad have been something of a trend lately for young English players. Jadon Sancho is currently the poster boy for success in loan spells abroad – rather than at lower league clubs – having recently been included in the England squad. Another is Reiss Nelson, who has thrived at Hoffenheim on loan fromArsenal so far.

There is much more to this youngster than mere ‘promise’. Astonishingly, Nelson scored his first six goals of season at a rate of one goal every 64 minutes, which was better than Sancho’s return at Dortmund, and twice as good as the great Robert Lewandowski’s ratio for Bayern at the same point of the season. Yet remarkably, Nelson’s first six strikes came from only seven shots on target, and ten shots in total.

By comparison, Nelson’s Hoffenheim teammate Andrej Kramaric scored the same amount of goals from 28 shots (16 on target). In a ‘status quo’ seen as bemusing by some, Nelson is still on the bench for most of Hoffenheim’s games. However, he is still getting significant playing time six strikes the potentially harmful spotlight of the demanding English game. Naturally, the time will come when he must make a case in Unai Emery’s first team plans. However, with current sports spreads showing that Arsenal are someway off Manchester City and Liverpool in every long-term Premier League market, Emery has more pressing issues to deal with than youth development.

With Arsenal’s fanbase much more desperate for a league title than the accolade of seeing their club produce a talent like Nelson, the fear now is that Nelson will attempt to break into the Arsenal team too soon. As a result, he would not likely get the amount of game time that he needs next season, and end up becoming frustrated.

Ademola Lookman is a prime example of the man Nelson wants to avoid becoming. The Everton forward spent the back-end of last season in Germany at RB Leipzig and was very impressive with five goals in 11 games. This season though, he is back to the struggle of securing precious minutes under the management of Marco Silva, who remains in the search for his strongest possible XI.

Only the best is good enough for Nelson

Wherever Nelson is next season, he clearly needs to be playing – at least regularly if not starting. Hoffenheim have entered the winter break as a comfortable top-half side in the Bundesliga, despite being lumbered with a maiden Champions League appearance.

Indeed, with Nelson having such early exposure to the top table of European football, only a sustained run in the Arsenal XI or a permanent transfer to the Bundesliga will do him any favours. In practice then, a loan spell in the Championship at one of the ‘bigger’ clubs like Leeds or Middlesbrough should not be entertained next term.

At present, his talent should shine brightly enough for Emery to give him sufficient game time at the Emirates Stadium in 2019/20. The Spaniard has shown a fluid approach to his formations so far, but when playing with three attackers, there should at least be room for Nelson as a frequent attacking substitute. However, that itself could rely on one of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil or Mkhitaryan being lured elsewhere in the summer.

Nelson could be a great element of surprise for Arsenal next season, but another year in Germany might be necessary if he wants to be a consistent starter for the Gunners. Hoffenheim will be delighted that they have him on loan, and now it is simply a matter of good man-management to ensure that he unlocks his true potential.

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