Hoffenheim have signed English youth international Reiss Nelson on loan from English Premier League side Arsenal for the 2018/19 season. Following in the footsteps of friend Jadon Sancho, the 18-year-old has opted for a year of learning under Julian Nagelsmann in football's breeding ground for young talent. But just who is Nelson?
Club: Hoffenheim (on loan from Arsenal)
Country: England (nine U19 caps – three goals)
Born just 21 days short of the millennium in December 1999, Nelson’s age means he certainly falls into Nagelsmann’s ideal category of player: young and hungry. Nelson has made his name in England with Arsenal, and especially in the U23 team, scoring 17 goals and collecting 11 assists in 38 matches. During the 2017/18 season he also broke into Arsenal’s first team, making 16 appearances without scoring. Playing mainly from right midfield, Nelson impressed during the group stages of Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League campaign. Standing at 5’7”, Nelson is much like his close friend Sancho of Borussia Dortmund, using his smaller size to his advantage.
Plays a bit like: Serge Gnabry
Nelson is a difficult player to find a comparison for, mainly because he can do everything at a high level. His pace is electrifying, especially when he is showcasing his enormous dribbling ability. But he is by no means an out-and-out winger. Nelson often drifts inside the pitch and uses his unexpectedly impressive passing skill, with through balls or even link-up play to allow himself a chance at running in behind the opposition defence. His end product is inconsistent, but at his age, this is the attribute that can be honed over time at a top level Bundesliga club. An exciting prospect for Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim and Nelson himself.
Did you know?
Nelson grew up on an estate in South London where football was part of everyday life.
“We would go to the football pitch near my estate and play until it was dark,” Nelson explained. “When you play with the older people it helps you mentally, because they’re bigger and stronger than you. You have to live up to that. There are no referees there, so you don’t get any fouls. You grow up faster in a place where anything goes.”
What they’re saying
“He showed the sort of touches you often see or associate with a Neymar or a real top player. Seventeen years of age, it’s quite phenomenal that ability this boy has, he really does look a wonderful talent.” – former Arsenal defender Martin Keown.
“I’ve got to give my all, 100 per cent, and my family are really important in helping me do that. I’m always trying to better myself and improve, so it’s just adding the little things and the finishing touches.”- Reiss Nelson.
"He has shown that he can dribble, go past people and he isn't fazed by the occasion.” – former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger.