Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann has given a frank assessment of Reiss Nelson’s loan spell so far, insisting that the 18-year-old still has lots of room to improve.
For those watching from afar, it might look like Nelson’s made the perfect start to life in Germany. Four goals in four league games is exactly the kind of statistic you want to hear about a loanee. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing so far, a point which Nagelsmann was keen to emphasise amid all the hype.
“Reiss has huge potential to develop,” Nagelsmann said. “He’s excellent one-on-one with a great drive towards the opposition goal. That’s why we loaned him. We must be mindful. Nelson’s scored four goals, two very important ones against Nuremberg, but he’s also had bad games.
“He needs to grow healthily. It’s like in music – one song puts bread on the table but only for a few weeks. It’s not about being a one-hit wonder, but about delivering good performances over a long period of time. Being the best over 15 years.
“He’s also had negative outliers with us. It’s about delivering the positive outliers consistently, showing those over and over again. Be careful when evaluating him. Let him grow in peace and don’t get into his head. It’s not easy to keep your feet on the ground at 18.”
In all honesty, this is just what you want to hear from the manager of a club you’ve loaned a player to. It’s pointless for Nelson to go to Germany, score some goals and get showered in praise, just to return having made little improvement in his overall game.
As with almost any 18-year-old, there are still areas of Nelson’s game he can work on. It’s good to see Nagelsmann is planning to address this and, hopefully, the Arsenal youngster will come back next year as a better player as a result.
At the same time, it’s obviously positive that Nelson is still finishing chances when they fall to him. Hoffenheim couldn’t have picked up three points at the weekend without him, and he’s sure to get a few more substitute appearances when they need a late goal now.