Thierry Henry says that Reiss Nelson has the talent to be a future first-team player for Arsenal after the 17-year-old made his first senior start.
Henry was speaking in The Sun on Sunday, and had a lot of good things to say about the youngster. He claimed: “This kid has all the talent to be knocking on the door of the first team,” reports the Daily Star.
“It was a shame not to see him start in his best position (against Doncaster). He is a No. 10 or a winger and he played as a wing-back. But as a kid, at a club like Arsenal, you take every chance you get.
“He is about to the enter the real world, the pro world. Can he handle it? Well, he has desire, confidence and a great attitude. He will run at you and be brave on the ball.
“People talk about being brave in football like going in for a 50-50 tackle but bravery can also be about decision-making when in possession. Reiss is brave because he takes risks, he takes on the opposition.
“He is quick — and not just across the ground. He is quick in the mind, he understands the game. But he is also quick with the ball and has fast feet. He is direct, there is no inefficiency, no messing around for the sake of it.”
Nelson has scored six goals in five games for the u23s, and has appeared in the Community Shield, Europa League and League Cup for the senior side so far. He is yet to complete 90 minutes or start in his favoured positions as Henry mentions, however.
No doubt the youngster will continue to get chances as the season goes on, I feel. Back in June, Wenger confirmed that Nelson would join the first-team squad this season, so promoting him is clearly part of a long-term plan rather than a snap decision to give him a chance based on early season form.
Since Henry previously worked with some of the academy, he should have a pretty good idea of Nelson’s strengths, and it’s encouraging to hear he thinks so highly of him. Now Nelson just needs to knuckle down and continue to take his chances, whether that’s with the first-team or not.
Arsenal play West Brom at the Emirates on Monday night, whilst the u23s play Everton. In my opinion, it’s more likely Nelson will be back with the youth team for now.