A few months ago, I penned a blog looking at the future of starlet Reiss Nelson.
It was on the back of his breakthrough season at Arsenal. He had impressed in pre-season, and his displays for the Under-23’s the campaign prior were filled with rave reviews and tongues wagging about this precocious talent.
He was rewarded with a prominent place amongst the Europa League squad, where he looked every inch a first teamer. While his trickery was dialled down a smidgin, his effectiveness and work rate were just as impressive.
It left Nelson at a crossroads in his fledgling career, and with his contract entering its final year, I surmised his options and where each path could take him.
Enter Unai Emery, and the Spaniard has picked up where Wenger left off, in terms of leaving the door open to our Academy graduates. Jo Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith-Rowe and Nelson have all been included in first-team affairs and while first team opportunities have been hard to come by in our first games this season, the arduous nature of the season hasn’t reared its ugly head yet and that is where these kids can feature.
Nelson has obviously seen enough to know that his immediate future lies with Arsenal, as he has been persuaded to ignore the inevitable approaches, and sign on the dotted line for the foreseeable.
His new deal will see Nelson ply his trade in the Bundesliga this season, as the winger will play for Hoffenheim for the campaign.
This move is an incredibly brave one for the youngster.
There would have been opportunities to remain in England, at the cutting edge of the game still, and up his minutes on the pitch.
Instead, he has gone to an exciting foreign side, managed by one of the hottest coaching properties in the game.
Julian Nagelsmann is an incredibly young manager, but what he has done for Hoffenheim in a short space of time has placed him on the radar for all the European giants.
Most importantly for Nelson though, is that Nagelsmann has a firm grasp on modern, tactical football. It will enable Nelson to adapt and come back into the Emery fold with more tools in his armoury.
Nelson has gone to Germany where communication for even the simplest things will be difficult. It is the better opportunity for his career though, and a great barometer to gauge where he needs to be for his Arsenal future.
Nagelsmann has already commented on Nelson before he signed, saying “If it all works out, we’ll have a great player with pace who can do a lot with the ball.”
Nelson could well follow in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, who moved permanently to Dortmund and has since seen his stock rise immeasurably. While Nelson has committed his future to Arsenal, a move to the Bundesliga can pay off handsomely. The tactics and the level are high, and Nelson, if he gets enough starts, could come back a far more polished diamond than we had before.
So we will all keep a close eye on events in Hoffenheim. To watch a player we all know has the skill, but if he can make it at a tender age in a foreign land, then his mental fortitude and hunger will be exactly where it needs to be too.
Minutes into his first outing, Reiss scored and made an instant impact.
Good luck Reiss, we are all rooting for you.