Mikel Arteta says Reiss Nelson convinced Arsenal not to loan him this summer, with the winger wanting to fight for his place in the team.
So far, it’s been a slow start to the season for Reiss Nelson with Arsenal. He made two substitute appearances in the Community Shield and Europa League, and one start in the EFL Cup against Leicester City, but that’s it. He hasn’t even made a PL squad.
Part of that was down to another injury, picking up a hamstring problem in early October. But in general, he hasn’t had the chances he’d want so far.
The situation raises the question of whether the 20-year-old should have gone on loan. According to Mikel Arteta, that was originally the plan, but Nelson convinced him otherwise.
“We had a few plans in mind with Reiss,” Arteta admitted. “One of them was as well to send him on loan to get more minutes because of the competition we have upfront.
“The reality is he has been really good in training. He wants to stay here. He wants to fight for his place. Reiss was really convinced that he wanted to fight to stay here.
“When you see that willingness and that passion and that security in a player you feel tempted to keep him even though you know that opportunities are going to be restricted and he is not going to have a lot of continuity in his play.
“But things change very quickly and if he starts playing and playing well and he does what he can do, why not? He could start to play more games. He is going to get the chances in the right moments.”
It’s very possible Nelson gets chances in the coming weeks. Arsenal have a busy schedule, and there are also increasing calls for Arteta to use Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang centrally. If he does, that would open up a spot on the left for someone to fill.
But even if Arteta keeps Aubameyang on the left, he needs someone to come in when the centre-forward needs a rest. Nelson could make himself that player with some good performances when he does get on the pitch.