Rather inevitably, given his status as a first-team player, it was Yaya Sanogo who hit the headlines for his goal in Arsenal U23s’ 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at London Colney today.
Joining him on the scoresheet, though, was Reiss Nelson, a young prospect who could very soon be part of the senior squad himself.
Nelson has long been tipped to make the breakthrough at Arsenal and his qualities are evident within an instant of watching him – he possesses excellent close control, is an exquisite passer and is starting to find the net with increasing regularity.
Versatility is now becoming one of his main traits, too. Although he is most comfortable operating either as a winger or an attacking midfielder, Nelson has often been deployed deeper in midfield in recent games, with the move designed to improve his overall tactical awareness.
Although he can occasionally be rash in the challenge, with regards to his attacking qualities Nelson has little to learn. He is perfectly suited to Arsenal’s style of play and it is becoming increasingly apparent that it is now a question of when rather than if we will see him involved in the first-team at Arsenal.
There is a good chance that the 17-year-old will be involved in the League Cup next season, most likely as a substitute, and, although there is a feeling that he is ready to make an impact in the first-team right now, the club are eager not to rush him.
For now Nelson is thriving for Arsenal at U23 level and is one of the star performers in the team despite being one of the youngest players involved. Possessing much self-confidence, the prospect is very direct in his approach and isn’t afraid to take players on, often with positive results.
It is, of course, important not to get carried away and we must wait to assess him in a first-team environment, but all of the signs suggest that Nelson, at the very least, has a good chance of making the cut at Arsenal.