How much noise can Reiss make in the land of curry-wursts, steins and relegation dog fights?
One of the most intriguing sub plots to Unai Emery's arrival in the summer was how he would deal with Arsenal's youth. With younger squad members like Maitland-Niles, Holding, Iwobi and Chambers all looking for first team football, and those on the fringes like Nketiah, Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson sniffing around the edges, would it be back to project youth like Wenger or would he go all Mourninho and leave them rotting in the reserves?. Thankfully Unai seems to have some belief in the younger generation, with a new contract and opportunities for Chambers on loan at Fulham, Holding getting a regular run out and Smith Rowe making a goal scoring debut in Europe. But what about Reiss Nelson?
After what felt like a pretty successful pre-season getting plenty of appearances and two goals, I must admit to being slightly underwhelmed as news started to break about a deadline day move to Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. With a new contract still unsigned, the thought of losing such a potentially exciting British talent felt blinkered especially as his unique wing play is so lacking in the squad. Thankfully again Unai found another way and sent him on loan with a shiny new Arsenal contract in his back pocket, so Arsenal fans were left with the prospect of late night BT Sport updates or checking online to see how the young 19 year old would progress. You can understand the decision in hindsight, weighing up the options of reserve/U21 football with the odd Carabao Cup game v The Bundesliga and Champions League to boot, plus a new culture and experiences, at such a young age, no brainer. It was also an easy decision from an Arsenal point of view, Reiss being essentially an out and out winger, so wouldn't exactly fit into the 4-3-3 high pressing Emery mould. Much better to send him out and hopefully see a more rounded, positionally experienced player return for next season.
So how is Nelson getting on under Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim?
Since joining the German outfit Reiss Nelson has warmed the bench on five occasions, coming on three times and scoring twice. He's also managed a five minute cameo in the Champions League against Shaktar Donetsk...
Unfortunately on both occasions Nelson has found the net Hoffenheim haven't gone on to win. Which doesn't in anyway take anything away from his contribution, but maybe in the manager's mind he's still only an impact sub rather than a player to start. In the fans' minds it's easy to forget goals when your team loses; I think back to that goal from Johnny Jenson against QPR. As much as I went a bit nuts at Highbury that night, the nagging feeling I have every time it's brought it up these days is:
"Yes I was there, no I didn't buy a £5 t-shirt, did you know we actually lost that game 3-1?"
You get the same feeling watching Nelson having to explain away poor results despite scoring here.
So what of the future?
It's easy to forget about Nelson, especially when all the noise from an English player in The Bundesliga is coming via Borussia Dortmund and Jaddon Sancho at the moment - the young 19 year old winger being called up by Gareth Southgate for the England Squad amongst much media frenzy. Jaddon has had more playing time in the Champions League, one goal and a couple assists in the league mainly as a sub in a team that's winning, sitting top versus a loanee playing for a team sitting 13th just above the relegation zone.
I for one hope Reiss continues with his development and flies under the radar of all the England stuff. He's long term for Arsenal; imagine a team with Lacazette, Aubameyang and a flying 'full Nelson'. It can only be something to get excited about.
Enjoy the interlull!