The youth player hype cycle is one of the most tiring sides of being an Arsenal fan.
The first half of the last decade was especially rough, whether it was players the club stole from renowned academies like Jon Miquel Toral or shrewd international youth player signings who didn’t pan out like Ryo Miyaichi, Gedion Zelalem and Joel Campbell.
There was also the severe academy dry spell the club experienced for the first half of last decade where none of the club’s graduates are in the current Arsenal squad despite all of those players being in their prime right now. None of those boys made the grade at Arsenal.
Even the stars of their respective classes are now Championship-level players. The worst was obviously seeing the ones who did make the grade be thoroughly broken down by injuries.
With Reiss Nelson, people realise maybe this guy may not be all that. I want Nelson to succeed but how long can the club wait until he puts it together?
Younger players seem to have somehow gone past him while the club’s activity in the transfer market and the recent renaissance by Hale End means more quality options are on the way.
I’m not saying Nelson needs to turn into 2013 Gareth Bale but the club need to see something. Gabriel Martinelli’s run against Chelsea comes to mind or the Bukayo Saka cross-field ball he hit during the Community Shield that set up the goal. Those two one-off scenarios were flashes of world-class ability.
These two players are yet to do those things on a consistent basis but at least the club have definite proof that there is something worth investing in these two players.
The conundrum is Nelson consistently showed flashes at his loan spell in the Bundesliga where Julian Nagelsmann of all people gave the certified stamp of world-class potential. But Nelson has failed to build on this and leaves Arsenal in a tight spot.
Worth the wait?
Reiss Nelson has an eye for goal. He is considered a very good one-on-one dribbler for his age while also being an able crosser.
Those are the foundations for a complete winger who is dangerous cutting inside or pushing the touchline. In many ways Nelson is frustrating as he often drifts through games but he also just looks like a young player struggling to do his role.
The flashes he shows of being a complete winger may just stay flashes and then he’ll just be a sequel to Alex Iwobi. But if the club allow him to leave and he polishes up even one of those skill sets to be world-class it’ll be another Serge Gnabry scenario where the club let him go to early and should’ve suffered through the drifting games.
Nelson needs game time but Arsenal are in a position to have him be nothing more than a rotation piece. Nelson is an inconsistent player who’s getting on and off game time.
One more season
Nelson is still part of the set-up and should get minutes in the Europa League and early cup rounds while coming off the bench for Arsenal in the Premier League.
One of his skill sets needs to pop for the club to continue waiting on him. Martinelli is really raw but he staked a claim to be in every match-day squad by proving to be a consistent goal threat. Saka did the same by being one of the club’s lead creators every time he stepped on the pitch.
If the club are back in a year’s time wondering what exactly Reiss Nelson is as a player, the club should sell him for all his value just like the club did to Iwobi.