Arsenal were open to letting Reiss Nelson go out on loan this season but the 20 year old chose to stay and fight for his place in the team. Mikel Arteta said this in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Gunners’ game against Dundalk in the Europa League.
Nelson is yet to play a single minute of football in the Premier League this season. He came off the bench in the closing stages of Arsenal’s first game in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna last week. The Gunners have a lot of competition for places in attack and the Englishman has struggled for game time.
On whether he hoped to give Reiss Nelson more game time, manager Mikel Arteta said:
“We ended the window with a large squad and we had a few plans in mind for Reiss and one of them was to send him on loan to get more minutes because of the competition that we have up front. The reality is that he’s been really good in training, he wants to stay here and he wants to fight for his place. It’s what he’s doing and he’s going to get chances in the right moments.”
“What I’m happy with is how he’s assimilated the situation with not playing a lot of minutes in the first few weeks, but as everybody can see, things are changing very quickly and we’re getting more and more injuries because of the schedule that we have. He will get the opportunities and then it will come down to him as to whether he takes them or not.”
On whether Nelson understands why he isn’t starting, he said:
“Well, I tried. Obviously to compare things that happened eight or nine months ago is difficult in a positive or negative way all the time, but I always try to have a very open communication with the players and try to get their thoughts out of their mind and try to tell them when they play or don’t play, the reasons behind that, and most of the time they haven’t done anything wrong, there’s just a lot of competition in these positions and we are favouring other players in that moment. That’s it.”
On why the player didn’t go out on loan, he said:
“Yes, it was a mix of a few things. Reiss was also really convinced that he wanted to fight to stay here, and when you see that willingness and passion and that security in a player, you feel tempted to keep him even though you know opportunities are going to be restricted and he’s not going to have a lot of continuity in his play. But things change very quickly and if he plays well and does what he can do, why not? Why can’t he start to play more games?”
Arteta has made it clear that while the club considered sending him out on loan in the summer, Nelson has performed well in training and will definitely be given opportunities in the first team. The club’s rigorous schedule and the possibility of injuries increases the player’s chances of being involved in games this season.
In the summer, it was believed that a host of Premier League clubs including Crystal Palace were interested in signing Nelson on loan. It remains to be seen whether staying in North London was the best decision for his development at this stage.
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