Reiss Nelson believes his runs in behind have improved a lot this season, and that will help him to have a greater impact in top-level football.
Nelson provided an assist for the England u21s’ opening goal against Poland this week, in a 1-1 draw with a side containing fellow Arsenal loanee Krystian Bielik. After the game, the 19-year-old spoke to the media about how his year away from North London has gone so far.
“There have been ups and downs but you get that in football,” Nelson said. “This is my first year really playing professional football and I am enjoying it. I want to go to the very top but it’s important to stay grounded and hopefully, I can one day achieve a lot of things.”
Clearly, the main thing Arsenal will be looking for from Nelson’s year away is some sort of improvement. If he comes back as the same player they sent off to Germany a year earlier, they’re unlikely to give him any further opportunities than he was already getting.
The winger insists he has added to his game, becoming more explosive and making better runs and learning from his time with Hoffenheim.
“I have developed,” he continued. “It’s not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. I’m working in the gym. I went there as an 18-year-old and I was finding it difficult to put weight on. They got me in the gym, they got me doing more weights and I think you can see the improvements in my game.
“I’m more explosive now off the ball. I don’t just need the ball into my feet, I can run in behind and it’s helping a lot.”
On the pitch, Nelson made a fantastic start to his time in Germany, scoring six goals and assisting one before the end of November. However, he’s only received one start from manager Julian Nagelsmann since then, and his goal contributions have duly dried up as a result.
Nonetheless, there are still only two players in the entire Arsenal squad (Aubameyang and Lacazette) who have scored more goals than Nelson this season, in all competitions. We’ll find out this summer if Unai Emery thinks that makes it worth giving the youngster a chance.