This season injuries and a lack of squad depth have resulted in young wingers Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide frequently being called up to the Arsenal first-team.
Iwobi, indeed, has made five appearances for the senior side, whilst Reine-Adelaide, who has caught the eye at youth level this season, will hope to make his competitive debut at some point in the near future.
Chris Willock, a product of the club’s Hale End academy, is also close to the first-team picture and, a little further down the ladder, schoolboy Reiss Nelson has been making a stellar impact this campaign.
A player who only turned 16 earlier this month, Nelson has already started for Arsenal at U21 level, featured prominently in the UEFA Youth League and trained with the first-team squad.
There are several other instances of starlets being involved with older age groups at such an early stage in their development, and doing so isn’t necessarily a guarantee that the individual in question will make the breakthrough in the long-term.
However, in Nelson’s case it has been almost impossible to avoid the buzz of excitement surrounding his performances this campaign. An intelligent dribbler and an astute passer who is also capable of going for goal himself, Nelson will hope to become more frequently involved with the second-string in 2016.
With a horde of first-team players likely to be away at Euro 2016 in the summer, there is also a possibility that Nelson could play some part in the senior squad’s pre-season preparations next season, which would truly underline the faith that the club have in his potential.
It seems likely that Arsenal’s scholarship intake next summer will be rather small, but Nelson is certainly leading the way in that group in terms of evoking excitement for the future.
Nelson has also made impressive progress on the international stage and has scored four goals in three games for his country while playing above his age group at U17 level.
All going well, 2016 should be a very important year in his development, with Nelson set to be afforded an opportunity to express his talent in front of a wider audience.
There is certainly still a very long way to go in his development, and the path to the top isn’t always a smooth one, but so far Nelson’s progress has been rapid and there are few signs to suggest that he will slow down any time soon.