From one point of view, today’s young footballers have it all.
They bathe in the adulation of millions. They earn an exorbitant amount of money and they get to do something that they love as their employment – something about 99% of the population can only dream of.
It isn’t all TikTok dances, new kicks and payrises though.
At such a young age they are faced with huge decisions on a regular basis. Do I speak to the boss about my playing time? Do I instruct my agent to start looking elsewhere? Is this sponsorship deal right for me? That is just a smidgin of what they face. Try and hark back to when you were 21. What consumed you back then? For me, I had a full-time job and the proceeds of which, went directly to weekends, films, games and cigarettes. We were lucky that the majority of decisions of the above magnitude didn’t surface on our radar.
One of the reasons these dilemmas and decisions are so significant is the fallout should they go wrong.
We have seen on so many occasions when a youngster is tempted by greener grass elsewhere or by lucrative promises made. They fall off the precipice of greatness and into the sea of ignominy, never quite being able to scale those giddy heights again. The talent is still there, but the chance has gone.
They have to make every opportunity count. Injuries, coaches, clubs, new countries – all are huge factors regarding why a youth starlet must seize everything that comes their way.
Time is of the essence – and it seems as if one of our own is at a crossroads.
Reiss Nelson’s talent doesn’t need questioning. The 20 year old has impressed all of his coaches during his short career. Renowned tactician Julian Nagelsmann of Hoffenheim said Nelson has the ability to reach elite levels, should he maintain his consistency and mentality.
And that is the crucial part – consistency.
Reiss hasn’t had the chance to build any consistency, as his time on the pitch has been anything but that. Nelson showed that when played regularly – when at Hoffenheim – he can deliver the goods (7 goals for the German side) – but does Nelson wait it out? Or does he move on as the timer on his career marches ever forward?
At the time of writing, Nelson was being linked with a loan move to Crystal Palace, to keep him primed. Every indicator shows he should have joined the Eagles for the season. At the current time, both Willian and Pepe are ahead of Nelson in the pecking order. Should both be rested then Nelson will get his minutes – but the likelihood of both being benched is low. At Palace, he would finally get the Premiership platform and the opportunity to prove what he can do when he gets the minutes.
Emile Smith-Rowe is another who is being linked with a loan move, and both should ponder it. If they are played, then they will return to Arsenal in a far stronger position, which will bolster their claims for the first team. Nelson made 17 appearances last season and that was before Willian showed up. This season heralds a tougher ask to squeeze minutes in.
Reiss Nelson is most definitely good enough for us – but he needs to play right now. A loan would have meant we retain the player’s services and Nelson can grow. Nelson
It was a win-win situation.
What do you think? Do you think he’l get the minutes he needs this season?