Who is 17-year-old Reiss Nelson, the midfielder making a name for himself at Arsenal?

Who is 17-year-old Reiss Nelson, the midfielder making a name for himself at Arsenal?

Although Arsenal’s comfortable 5-2 victory over Benfica in the Emirates Cup this weekend was partially expected, the emergence of teenage midfielder Reiss Nelson has come out of nowhere.

The 17-year-old has been given first-team exposure by manager Arsene Wenger during the Gunners’ pre-season preparations and it is fair to say that there’s a bit of a buzz around him, but who is he?

Who is the highly-rated Reiss Nelson?

Born in Elephant and Castle in December 1999, Nelson joined the Arsenal academy at just nine-years-old and has worked his way through the age groups ever since, often playing above his age.

Last season he made 35 appearances for Arsenal’s various youth teams – including nine matches playing for the under-21 team – culminating in signing his first professional contract last December.

Seven goals across all competitions caught the attention of boss Arsene Wenger, impressing in the UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup, and has seen him represent England’s under-17 side as well.

What has Wenger had to say about him?

After starring in Arsenal’s 5-2 victory over Benfica in the Emirates Cup on Saturday afternoon, boss Arsene Wenger praised the impact that he’s had since coming into the side for pre-season friendlies.

Speaking post-match, Metro reports that he said: “He’s a more offensive player, more a guy who can play as one of the three strikers or as an offensive midfielder.

“What is good for his education is to play in this position [wing-back] as well because we learn how to cope with defensive responsibilities, and that’s a good part of the education of the modern player.

“As strikers or creative players, you tend to have two kinds of players. Some who are good at running with the ball, and some who are good at running off the ball. He’s more a player who likes the ball to his feet and provokes opponents by passing them.”

It’s been a while since Arsenal have had a true talent come through their academy and make an impression on the first-team like Nelson has, and it’s clear to see he’s turned Wenger’s head already.

Does he have the attributes to succeed at the Emirates?

On first glance there seems to be everything going for the 17-year-old, stepping on to a football pitch with a young naivety and a raw talent that sees him unfazed by anyone he comes up against.

Despite being used in a more advanced position for the youth sides, Wenger has trialled him in a wing-back role and credit needs to be given to Nelson for how seamlessly he’s adapted to the task at hand.

Offensively he has all of the attributes needed to succeed, carrying bags of pace and an overriding natural instinct to run at the defence directly, and his trickery on the ball will cause problems as well.

Yet, although many past players have shown signs of true speed and endeavour but failed to sustain it on the big stage, Nelson has displayed that he has the intelligence and end product to force his way into Wenger’s long-term plans.

His assist for Olivier Giroud yesterday was nothing short of superb, using his pace to get to the edge of the box before cutting back and finding his run perfectly.

At 17 years of age, there is an awful long way to go for Nelson to etch his name into Arsenal folklore, but for the first time in a while there is a growing feeling that the academy has found an absolute gem.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know

You may also like…