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Reiss Nelson – that’s the name on every Arsenal fan’s lips after the Gunners 2-0 victory in their pre-season friendly against Sydney FC in Australia on Thursday.
While club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette got himself on the scoresheet for his new team fifteen minutes into his debut, it is Nelson that has been the talk of the town. The 17-year old was the Gunners’ standout performer against the Australian outfit, playing in an unfamiliar right wing-back role.
And if that display was anything to go by, Arsenal may well have the next breakout star, who is set to follow the footsteps of the likes of Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi and establish himself in the first-team setup.
Following his excellent performance, let’s take a closer look at Arsenal’s teen sensation and what he can offer to the team;
Born on December 10, 1999, in London, England, Nelson displayed great skills at a very young age and joined the Arsenal academy at the U-8 level in 2008. His abilities were evident from the earliest of the stages and Nelson was always playing in an age group higher than his.
After working his way through all the levels, the youngster signed his first professional contract with the club in December 2016, after he turned 17. He played 27 games last season, scoring 12 goals and bagging 6 assists and was a crucial part of the Gunners’ U-19 team in the UEFA Youth League, while he also played for the U-21s on a number of occasions.
The youngster has represented the England national team at the U-16s and the U-17s level and broke into the U-18s setup last year.
An attacking midfielder who can play out wide or through the centre, Nelson has shown great potential at his age. The teenager backs himself to take on his man and comes out on top more often than not. He has the pace and the close control of the ball, that makes him a difficult proposition to deal with in the attacking third. He possesses an array of skills and has a creative edge to his game, while he himself can score goals in plenty.
Nelson also possesses great footballing brains and has shown that he can switch positions intelligently with his teammates in the final third of the pitch. He can stretch wide and hit crosses into the box, as was evident in the game against Sydney FC, while he also has the ability to cut in from the flanks.
At the end of the last season, Wenger had earmarked Nelson as someone who could make it big in the upcoming campaign. And true to his word, the Frenchman has given the 17-year old a chance to prove himself, which he did with aplomb.
It is very much likely that he will get another chance to make an impression in this pre-season tour with Arsenal. While he may or may not have a breakthrough season with senior team in the coming year, there is no doubt that Nelson is set for great things in the future.