Watching him make mincemeat of European opposition in the second tier of the continent’s elite competition, the general feeling was that Reiss Nelson could come into the Premier League side and play a starring role in averting the previously torrid run of form.
Him taking Willian’s spot both in the squad and on the bench would be fans’ preference. A pipe-dream, unfortunately.
It’s clear that Arteta simply doesn’t favour the forward. Coming to terms with that gradually as the season has gone on, where and how he makes it into the side grows more elusive by the week.
Capable of playing on either flank, he now has to sidestep Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli, Willian and Nicolas Pepe in order to earn playing time. Whether one feels he’s worthy of doing so is irrelevant: Arteta is not in agreement.
Battling on three fronts this season, there will be need for rotation. However, Nelson wasn’t initially chosen in the starting lineup for the FA Cup third round win over Newcastle, only coming in for the injured Martinelli, failing to impress and being hauled off in the 56th minute.
While there can be opportunities for him, they’d only be fleeting at best. Arsenal would probably prefer to hold onto him but if he can be granted regular minutes for six months the opportunity has to be evaluated.
The club must be right, too. If it isn’t the right destination, then keep him. German sides have shown interest, yet for his development it would be important for him to remain in England. With five wide players already there to tackle the Premier League and Europa League, and with Nelson under contract until the summer of 2023, he just needs to play.