Reiss Nelson’s breakthrough into Arsenal’s U18 squad towards the end of last season was one of the very few salvageable moments of solace to take from what was a wretched campaign for the club at that level.
The youngster, who doesn’t turn 16 until December, made three starts for Frans De Kat’s side in addition to featuring on a further three occasions as a substitute. Skilful, creative and quick, he has long been earmarked as a potential talent of the future, a point that has been further evidenced by the club’s decision to allow him to train full time at London Colney this season, despite the fact that he is still a schoolboy.
In doing so Nelson will be following in the footsteps of Jack Wilshere and Chuba Akpom, who both spent their final year as an U16 player training with players who were older than them. Whether Nelson will follow Wilshere and Akpom in one day making the first-team set-up remains to be seen, but the decision to allow him to train with the U18 squad, for whom he will surely make a substantial amount of appearances this season, appears to be a very wise one.
Capable of playing out wide or, alternatively, as an attacking-midfielder, Nelson has represented England at U15 and U16 levels, but it is when playing for Arsenal that he has had the most significant impact, with the Hale End product featuring frequently for the U16 team last season when he was still an U15 player.
Today Nelson travelled with the rest of the U18 squad for a five-day training camp in the Netherlands as the preparations for the new season intensified a little. Should he impress sufficiently, Nelson may well find himself in contention to feature in the Arsenal XI friendly against Bournemouth at the training ground on July 11th.
Nelson, as can be gleaned from his rapid development over the last few years, is used to developing quickly. It may not be too much longer before he starts to garner even more attention.