Forget Wilfried Zaha, Reiss Nelson is the man Arsenal need to replace Theo Walcott when the forward inevitably leaves north London in January.

With a year-and-a-half left on Theo’s current Arsenal deal, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Gunners will be trying to offload him if they want to cash in. Transfermarkt currently says his market value is £18m, which wouldn’t be a bad sum considering he’s yet to make a single Premier League start this season.

The 28-year-old’s former club, Southampton, and West Ham are both said to be interested in signing him and, to be honest, he could probably do well at either side.

The forward’s potentially imminent departure in January has set media tongues a-wagging and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has been linked with a move to the club he supported as a child. However, rather than sign a new player, why not just put a bit more trust in Reiss Nelson?

Zaha would reportedly cost Arsenal £35m. That’s at least £15m more than we’d be getting for Theo. Therefore, as well as replacement for Alexis Sanchez and/or Mesut Ozil, we’d have to shop around for a reasonably priced winger who wouldn’t mind being benched for big games but can actually produce something when called upon. There aren’t many around.

Despite being just 17, Nelson has impressed during his Europa League performances this term. The only issue is that Arsene Wenger plays him as wing-back instead of his preferred position as a forward. Therefore, he can struggle to get involved in play from time-to-time. However, when the boss gives him the chance to roam forward a bit more, he looks brilliant.

If he replaces Theo, obviously he’ll get the chance to play in a more advanced position.

reiss nelson v donny
Arsenal’s English midfielder Reiss Nelson (R) has an unsuccessful shot during the English League Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Doncaster Rovers at The Emirates Stadium in London on September 20, 2017. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Nelson is obviously already at Arsenal, so there’s no transfer fee there. His current deal runs out in June 2019 but I have no doubt that the club are going to try and tie him down to a new, shiny long-term deal soon.

Therefore, although we would have to hand him a payrise, it would be very little compared to someone like Zaha coming in. The 25-year-old allegedly earns £110k-per-week with the Eagles. There’s no way Nelson will be requesting anywhere near that at his age.

Obviously, it’s not all about the money. Arsenal are a club known for showing faith in their youth and bringing them through the ranks. However, it feels as if, with the influx of spending in the Premier League, we’re also helping our academy talent develop less and less.

Players like Nelson, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are finally getting Gooners excited about the Arsenal youth again. Let’s not waste this opportunity!

I’m not saying Nelson should be handed a starting position in big games but having him on the bench instead of Theo would not only be the most logical option going forward, I think it would be the most exciting one.