Andries Jonker says Reiss Nelson has only ever dreamed of playing and succeeding with Arsenal, and his loyalty helped them convince others to stay.
Andries Jonker was academy manager at Arsenal between 2014 and 2017, meaning he knows many of the club’s youngsters currently breaking through.
Among those is Reiss Nelson, who is having a tough time at the moment. The winger has had to drop down to the u23s for matches lately, starting five games for the academy side since the beginning of February.
With the first team, he hasn’t made a single Premier League squad since November and has only featured in one of the four Europa League knockout-stage squads despite the extended bench.
This is a shame for a player who Jonker claims always dreamed of playing for the Gunners.
“Reiss told me when he was a little boy that he only had one dream. He wanted to play at the Emirates,” Jonker said. “Those [Hale End] boys eat, drink and sleep Arsenal and they have one goal: to be successful with Arsenal.
“We created a climate where those boys felt comfortable. They did not want to leave. They knew we trusted them.
“When the other boys found out Reiss was going to stay, that Emile was going to stay, that Bukayo was going to stay, it meant for them that they could stay.”
You’d hope there’s some sort of positive solution to the current situation. If Nelson can impress sufficiently to get back into the first-team squad, that would obviously be ideal.
The problem at the moment is that everyone is fit and there’s an unusual amount of competition for places. So he’s just going to have to be patient for now.