Having played just 323 minutes this season, Reiss Nelson must be questioning what his future at Arsenal looks like despite signing a new contract in the summer.
When the winger made his debut in 2017, many fans were quite justifiably excited about the potential shown by the then-17-year-old.
Despite seemingly having the world at his feet, Nelson would go on to make just 13 competitive appearances in the 2017/18 season, though he was not able to find his first goal during his debut campaign.
The next season saw him shipped out on loan to German side TSG Hoffenheim, who were managed at the time by Julian Nagelsmann, to gain more consistent, and much needed, playing time to enhance his development. During his year in Germany, Nelson scored seven Bundesliga goals in 23 appearances.
These were impressive numbers and only led to more excitement over the future of the academy product, but the following season, 2019/20, proved to be a real challenge for the youngster.
He was sidelined for almost 100 days because of ankle and knee injuries, which disrupted what many hoped would be a real breakthrough season.
During this time he did score his first Premier League goal, but that would be his only goal of that league campaign, which proved to be very disappointing based on the hope and expectations before the season started.
In the seasons that have followed, Nelson has endured a very mixed time. Injuries have been a persistent issue for the now 23-year-old, which has led to him having a greatly reduced amount of playing time – which has inevitably made a negative impact on his development.
What is Reiss Nelson’s current situation at Arsenal?
Many had expected Nelson to leave Arsenal in the summer, as his contract was due to expire and many clubs, including Brighton & Hove Albion, were said to be interested in acquiring his services on a free transfer.
Despite this, and after discussions with the club and manager, Mikel Arteta, Nelson signed a new long-term contract with the club, extending his 15-year stay with the club.
But even after committing his future to the Gunners, and being the only real direct rotation option for Bukayo Saka, Nelson has played just 323 minutes this season and has scored only a single goal, which was his side’s winner in the Carabao Cup against Brentford.
With his seriously limited playing time and lack of output, some fans have questioned whether or not the former England U21 star has any prospect of a successful future with the club.
Does Reiss Nelson have a future at Arsenal?
The simple fact is that Nelson’s current situation is unsustainable. Promising players need to play and, for all the time that he is not doing so, a move away from the club, whether temporary or permanent, needs to be given real consideration by all parties.
Not only is his lack of playing time going to have a serious impact on his development and career prospects, but it will also negatively impact the club – as his transfer value inevitably declines in the process.
But while his personal ambition and the club’s finances are both very legitimate reasons to look at regarding his future, there is, in my opinion, a far more pressing issue at hand.
Trust. It is absolutely vital that a player can trust his manager but also, more so, that said manager trusts the player too.
In a season where Saka has already suffered multiple injuries and knocks, for Nelson to have still not been given more of an opportunity suggests that Arteta simply does not think he is up to the necessary level to be a key part of our squad.
Once it is clear that the manager does not trust a player, a departure is the only option – meaning that Nelson needs to be either loaned out or sold in the January transfer window.
Should Arsenal sell Reiss Nelson?
Personally, I would like to see Nelson loaned out rather than sold because I genuinely believe that there is a real talent within him, and he just needs consistent game time and confidence to unlock it.
It would leave our squad looking somewhat short however, and Saka desperately needs a rotation option to ease his workload to avoid any unnecessary injuries in the future – so we would need to bring in another player to enable any potential loan deal for Nelson.
If a potential loan proved futile, I believe that we could still sell him for a reasonable fee, and then use those funds to reinvest in the squad, so it is potentially a win-win for all parties.