Julian Nagelsmann has explained that he’s benching Reiss Nelson at the moment because the Arsenal youngster still needs to improve his game defensively.
It was hard to ignore Nelson’s blistering start to the season, as he scored six goals and assisted one in his first seven Bundesliga appearances. However, it’s now over a month since the 18-year-old last started a game for Hoffenheim, and even when he comes off the bench it’s usually as a last resort at the end of the game.
Julian Nagelsmann explained to the media this week why he’s not starting his team’s third top scorer.
Julian Nagelsmann 💬
"@ReissNelson9 still has room for improvement defensively, which is why he normally is last off the bench. Regardless of our plan, he is of course always a candidate for the starting XI, that goes for Saturday as well."#WOBTSG
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@tsghoffenheimEN) December 6, 2018
Though it must be a bit disappointing not to be starting every week for Hoffenheim, it’s a good thing for Nelson’s development that he has a coach pushing him to improve the weakest aspects of his game. Arsenal need Nelson to be able to contribute defensively just as much as Nagelsmann’s side do.
Hoffenheim play Wolfsburg on Saturday, before a trip to Premier League leaders Manchester City next Wednesday. It’s certainly unlikely Nagelsmann will suddenly give Nelson his first Champions League start in their hardest fixture of the group stage.
However, that might mean the youngster gets the nod against Wolfsburg, so other Hoffenheim stars can rest up. We’ll see.