Patrick Mills provides a detailed scout report on Reiss Nelson, Arsenal’s gifted youngster.
Following a season filled with uncertainty and protest at Arsenal, the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil, are yet to be resolved. However, the signings of Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette have, to a certain extent, distracted Arsenal fans and given them some hope at the beginning of pre-season. Furthermore, impressive displays from Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah during the Gunner’s recent trip to Sydney have provided supporters with a glimpse into a potentially brighter future.
Nelson’s performance was particularly exciting in a somewhat unfamiliar role at right wing-back. During a 2-0 win against Sydney FC, the midfielder earned the man of the match award on his first start for the senior team. The 17 year old will almost certainly get some game time in the EFL and FA Cups this season but won’t be fazed if an opportunity in the Europa League, or even the Premier League arises.
Who is Reiss Nelson?
Born in South London, Reiss Nelson joined Arsenal at the age of 8. After impressing for various age levels in the youth team, he signed his first professional deal at the Emirates in December 2016 after turning 17. At the end of the 16/17 campaign, first team manager Arsene Wenger revealed that Nelson would be making the step up to join his squad for next season. Wenger has praised Nelson on a number of occasions this year and recently had this to say;
“Some of the players I’ve had in my career have turned 18 years old and it seems natural for them to be on the pitch. They just think ‘let’s play’, and Reiss behaves like that.”
Nelson has also been progressing well on the International front and having represented England at Under 16 and Under 17 level, is currently a part of Neil Dewsnip’s Under 18 set up. He scored 9 times in 10 appearances for the 17’s and last summer was the team’s top scorer with 3, as they reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships in Azerbaijan.
What is his Style of Play?
From a long-term perspective, Nelson’s most likely position is probably in an inside right position. His game is focused mainly on receiving to feet in wide areas and attempting to beat his fullback before delivering a cross. He can also, however, play behind the front man and create chances from central areas. Arsene Wenger spoke about Nelson’s profile recently.
“As strikers or creative players, you tend to have two kinds of players. Some who are good at running with the ball, and some who are good at running off the ball. He’s more a player who likes the ball to his feet and provokes opponents by passing them.”
What are his Strengths?
Nelson had an impressive record for Arsenal’s Under 23’s last season scoring 7 goals and assisting a further 8. His finishing and ability to arrive in dangerous positions at the right time are two of his main attributes. Nelson’s main asset, however, is perhaps his ability in 1v1’s. His dribbling, close control and pace make him a difficult opponent for any defender. It’s this element of his game that has many Arsenal fans calling for him to start the new season in the first team. The video below highlights Nelson’s wide-ranging skillset.
What are his Weaknesses?
As mentioned, Nelson is versatile and there are many different facets to his game. Consequentially, he poses an unpredictable threat to opponents and is difficult to stifle. It is therefore hard to find fault. At just 5ft 8”, an argument could be made to say that he’ll struggle with the physicality of the Premier League. However, considering Nelson’s ability to get away from players using his pace and quick feet, it’s not an argument that would go on for very long.
A common criticism of young players in the same mould as Nelson is that they lack end-product, but as I’ve discussed, he doesn’t fall short on that front either. Additionally, Nelson appears to have the focus, as well as the confidence and composure to deal with top level football, having performed so well in front of 80,000 spectators on his Arsenal debut in Sydney.
Ultimately, Reiss Nelson seems primed to become the next youngster to make the breakthrough in North London and firmly cement his place in the Arsenal squad over the next few years. The challenge for Nelson will be taking his performances at youth level and proving that he can be equally productive for the first team.
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