Reiss Nelson says Arsene Wenger is planning a ‘bright future’ for him, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock, as the academy trio continue to edge closer to the first team.
Nelson recently revealed that he’s hopeful he can sign a contract extension to stay at Arsenal ‘soon’. That would make him the third of the 18-year-olds to do so this season, with Nketiah and Willock both already committing their future to the club.
The winger made his first Premier League start last weekend, and says he just needs to follow Wenger’s advice right now.
“The boss [Wenger] is the man in charge and I have just got to do what he says,” he said. “If I keep training hard and if I get the opportunity to play, I will play well and we will take it from there.
“He is one of the biggest influences for me – he keeps pushing the youngsters – me, Eddie (Nketiah) and Joe (Willock) – I think he has got a bright future planned for us. I think a first-team start in the Premier League at a high level like this is a step forward.”
So how have each of the trio performed so far this season?
- Age: 18
- Position: Forward
- Senior game-time 2017/18: 670 minutes
Reiss Nelson has already had more first-team chances at Arsenal than anybody else currently in his age group. As well as nine substitute appearances, he also has six starts this campaign.
In fact, he’s one of few players to play in every single competition in 2017/18, including the Community Shield.
Before the weekend, it seemed like Nelson’s chances were starting to dry up, as Arsenal reached the business end of the season. He only played seven minutes of senior football in three months after his FA Cup start.
Clearly that started to get to him, as we saw from his reaction to Wenger choosing not to bring him on against Watford.
He kept working hard though, scoring in each of his u23 appearances in February and March. Eventually that led to his first league start against Southampton, and hopefully there are more to come.
Premier League 2 stats 2017/18
- Appearances: 10
- Goals: 8
- Assists: 2