Reiss Nelson has so far had an up and down season while on loan with Hoffenheim. However, the young Arsenal starlet will only be turning twenty this December, and has already earned senior appearances for Arsenal during the 2017/18 campaign under Arsene Wenger. Considering that Arsenal are not expected to be flush with cash this summer, could Nelson make a return to the Gunners to challenge for more game time under Unai Emery next season?
Reiss Nelson has netted six goals in all competitions for Hoffenheim, who compete in the competitive German Bundesliga. Unfortunately, all six goals came in the first half of the season. He last scored against Augsburg back in mid-November. Also, most of his game time has also been in the first portion of the season. Since Bayern Leverkusen game on November 3rd, Nelson has only played more than 45 minutes on one occasion, the Borussia M’gladbach game on December 12th. He sustained a mild back injury in January, which further decreased his involvement.
The loss in form and decrease minutes look troubling at first, but it is important to recognize that he is training under Julian Nagelsmann, who is widely renowned for his ability to work with youth prospects. Per Mertesacker, manager of the Arsenal Academy, was quoted in a discussion with Goal as stating that Nelson described his experience as a “tough time”. However, Mertesacker also went on to conclude, “I think it’s very beneficial to him”, in reference to Nelson’s time at Hoffenheim.
Arsenal are currently in a tight battle with Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea for the final two Champions League spots next season. During the winter transfer window, the club brought in Denis Suarez on loan to fill a gap out wide, which has continued to be an area in need of depth for the Gunners. Arsenal have the option to permanently buy Suarez come the summer for a reported fee of £18 million. However, it might be more prudent to bring back Nelson instead of spending the money on Suarez.
Suarez has only managed to play in four Premier League matches and two appearances in the Europa League. He has not started a game since joining in the winter, and the idea of spending close to £20 million on a player that has been unable to make an impact seems a foolish use of funds. Rather, Reiss Nelson should be able to come into the Arsenal side and apply his experience that he gained from his time in Germany to fight for a permanent place in the starting eleven. He is adept at playing both out on the right and the left wing, and Nelson has been employed in the middle of the pitch as well. His ability to offer a multifaceted skill set would be invaluable for Emery since he requires his players to be influential in multiple aspects of the game.
Reiss Nelson has been able to get Champions League experience with Hoffenheim and is currently learning how to overcome adversity. It is not as though Nelson is having a miserable time or is being mistreated by the club, but rather is being forced to prove his worth and show he understands the responsibilities that comes with being a future star.
Nelson may not make a monumental impact upon returning to Arsenal, but the opportunity for him to learn how to play Emery’s style, and evolve his game in areas such as tracking back and finishing in the final third, can empower his rise as one the England’s future stars. Another season on loan would not do well for his confidence, as he could see it as a lack of belief from Emery.
The English youngster needs first team Premier League minutes and Arsenal are in need of more instrumental depth out wide. Nelson also has the quality to influence games in a positive manner no matter the circumstances. The added benefit of having a needed player return with more experience without spending valuable transfer dollars can not be overstated. The 2019/20 season is the perfect time to let Nelson begin his journey to Premier League stardom.