It needs mentioning that nothing is final at this stage. Willian is expected to leave Arsenal in the summer transfer window but there is still plenty of work to be done on that front. On the dreamland basis he does, however, how does that impact Reiss Nelson?
Missing posters dotted around north London have even began losing their ink. Reiss Nelson is nowhere to be seen and only unconfirmed eye witness statements can suggest he’s even still at Arsenal.
The decision, one that didn’t rest solely on the club, to not leave on loan in January was a mistake. Nelson wasn’t enamoured with the options available and opted against departing, while if Mikel Arteta knew in advance he wasn’t part of his plans for the second half of the campaign more work should have been done to approach interested clubs.
Watching Nelson sit head and shoulders above the rest in the Under-23 side, there is no doubting that numerous suitors would have acquired his services on a six-month deal. Whether if it was in the Championship or abroad, he just needed to play senior football.
Does Willian potentially leaving Arsenal impact Reiss Nelson’s future at the club as the summer transfer window draws near?
A part of the reason he hasn’t played has been Willian. For the wide options at the club, Nelson fell even further down the pecking order after the Brazilian’s arrival, who was granted an obscene amount of playing time despite largely displaying the same level of football competence as the owners.
Nelson hasn’t deserved to be starting every week, far from it, but he has warranted a place on the bench or the occasional cameo. There have been fixtures for him. With none of that forthcoming, and having almost come to terms with Arteta’s erasure, a summer exit seemed inevitable. He really doesn’t fancy him.
Will that change if Willian is somehow shipped off?
This summer would come down to deciding whether Nelson should be sold or loaned out. Still only 21 years old, he hasn’t had a full season of football under his belt at any point in his career. Judgments on his ability can be rightly made from the flashes seen but to truly make a strong case for his overall talent it has to be displayed over the course of 35+ matches.
With two years left to run on his deal, now would be framed as the opportune moment to sell. However, if he goes out on loan and hits the heights expected of him, his value can’t possibly drop below what is is now off the back of a wasted season just because he’s 12 months further into his deal. It can only increase.
Willian potentially leaving would open space for him in the first team. Nearly 2,000 minutes available for use elsewhere. It still wouldn’t be the right decision, however, since Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and another possible arrival will all still be ahead of him in wide berths.
An entire summer awaits to find him a suitable temporary home. He may prefer a permanent sale in which case Arsenal can’t stand in his way, but somewhere like Watford, Norwich, Crystal Palace or even Newcastle would realistically be the ideal sort of clubs for his development. Then, in 12 months, reassess or sell for a profit.
Bidding the fondest farewell to Willian would be fabulous news. Yet whether he leaves or not, it still doesn’t change the situation with Nelson.