Arsenal Have Homemade Wonderkid in Reiss Nelson

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal during the match between Arsenal U21 and Brighton
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal during the match between Arsenal U21 and Brighton /

Arsenal have made a habit of signing wonderkids lately, but it’s always nice to build one as well. Reiss Nelson is the latter type and he is impressing on all fronts.

Arsenal’s youth academy has not been up to scratch in the past few years. Only Jack Wilshere has emerged from the academy, having been here since his wee years. Every other major contributor for this Arsenal side was either purchased externally or purchased at a young age.

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That is all well and good, but it is always nice to see a wonderkid or two emerge from Arsenal’s own system.

Everyone is talking about the host of wonderkids that Arsenal have purchased over the past year. Krystian Bielik, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Donyell Malen and Kelechi Nwakali all figure to be players to watch in the coming seasons, but they fit the mold of being bought as teenagers. Again, nothing wrong with that, but hows about a little homegrown excellence?

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Arsenal have one in Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has been with the club since he was just seven years old. He has been a consistent, contributing member of Ipswich Town and one of the few Gunners that has not had any blips in his loan. Come this summer, he may make a serious push for first-team inclusion next season.

But Maitland-Niles is not alone. Arsenal have another homemade wonderkid in the works in 16 year old Reiss Nelson. Nelson has made a major impact in his short stint with the English youth side, scoring four times in just three appearances with their U17 squad. But those numbers had yet to translate to club football. That is, until recently.

Nelson was given the start at right wing against Brighton in Arsenal U21’s 4-1 win and it was Nelson that stole the show, even in spite of Danny Welbeck’s inclusion in the side. Nelson scored once and put up two assists to kick start his goals account with the U21s.

While they were Nelson’s first solid statistics of the year, that does not take away from the work he has put in. Nelson shot through Arsenal’s academy with his quick feet and incredibly deft technical ability. A lot is made of Donyell Malen’s quick rise to the U21 side, but Nelson is right there with him. Just 16 years of age, Nelson is playing well above his age. 

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Nelson also has the versatility to play either wing. His breakout performance came on the right, but the majority of his appearances have come from the left side. Given the current crop at Arsenal, the left may be the more profitable nest for Nelson, but if he keeps up this meteoric climb, wherever he goes, there will be room.

What makes his performance against Brighton even more inspiring is that, as the Metro indicates, it was done under extreme pressure. The boss himself, Arsene Wenger, was in attendance to watch the match and given that fact that Nelson opened his goal-scoring/assisting account that very day, indicates that he may have risen to the occasion. He recognized the opportunity to impress and he took it.

Nelson has been competing on the wings with Chris Willock, as they are both left-sided 16 year olds, but there is plenty of room for help on the wings. As we can see form Arsenal’s current stock, you can never have too many options.

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At just 16, Nelson is already showing so many positive signs and he has more many years to build on that before he is even put to the real test. Keep an eye on this lad. He is definitely someone to be excited about.