Prior to his recent hamstring injury, Reiss Nelson was highly admired by Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta. Upon his return, we will now see if Arteta really believes in the young wing.
Reiss Nelson started both Mikel Arteta’s first two games as Arsenal’s head coach. It was an eloquent selection. After a difficult first appearance in a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth, Arteta was seen hugging Nelson as the pair left the pitch. He had one hand around Nelson’s shoulder, the other on Nelson’s chest and was clearly instructing him about the events that took place during the 90 minutes. Arteta was training.
Arteta clearly believed in Nelson’s ability. In fact, he wasn’t shy about predicting the 20-year-old’s potential. Speaking later in mid-January, Arteta said:
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“Reiss has the potential to do whatever he wants. If he wants to do it, he wants to learn and he wants to challenge himself, he can be the best player for this football team. “
This is quite bullish, to say the least.
Since then, Nelson has faced the right tension for his hamstrings, losing the last month of action. However, during the two-week winter break, he returned to full training and, according to the club’s official announcement on Friday morning, is now again available for selection. It would be surprising to see him accompanied directly to the initial XI, especially with Gabriel Martinelli now in shape and fired, but Nelson could be a bigger part of Arteta’s plans than many thought he could be.
And Nelson is confident that he will be the beneficiary of Arteta’s lauded coach. Talking with The Guardian Nelson said this week:
“Now is a great time to have him as a manager because he understands what I’m good at. He will give me encouragement when I need it and if I’m not doing the right things he will tell me. I have all my faith in Mikel and I think it will make me a great player. “
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Nelson compared the developments of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane at Manchester City, two players who have skills similar to his raw, speed-oriented and dribbling-focused skills, and suggested that he too could excel under Arteta’s leadership. And with this measure, very few would doubt it. Coaching of Arteta on an individual basis is demonstrated. But does the Spaniard really believe in Nelson?
When Nelson started on the arrival of Arteta, Nicolas Pepe was still trying to understand things under the new coach, his work ethic questioned, Bukayo Saka was playing with the left back and Martinelli was injured. These three are now fit, aware of their responsibilities and ready to play. You can also cast Eddie Nketiah who has returned from his loan spell at Leeds United. Arteta has many offensive options.
Nelson has an outrageous potential. And Arteta believes in this potential, in principle. But there are other players who fight for the starting points in the Arsenal team and, unless Arteta really believes in Nelson’s skills, the young Englishman could be outside looking inside.