Reiss Nelson joined Arsenal’s famed Hale End academy at the age of nine, quickly rising up the ranks in the youth set-up. The youngster finally emerged into the Arsenal first team during their 2017 pre-season, going on to make 16 appearances for the Gunners in the 2017/18 season.
He saw his life-long friend and former Southwark youth team-mate Jadon Sancho move to Germany in 2017 and decided to follow in Sancho’s footsteps. Nelson joined Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in a year-long loan deal on 31st August 2018.
Arsenal had just tied him to a new long-term deal so getting the promising wideman game time was imperative for his development. The 19-year-old cited Hoffenheim manager Julian Naglesmann as a crucial factor in making the temporary switch, “I think it’s important to go to a team and a coach who believes in you, so he was the main reason because he is willing to play us.”
The talented winger’s move across the North Sea has become part of a growing trend amongst ambitious young English players eager to seek out development opportunities abroad that continue to prove elusive in the Premier League.
Nelson has exceeded expectations on German soil after just five months abroad, scoring a league goal every 82 minutes on average. He netted just 14 minutes into his Bundesliga debut and has since scored a further five league goals. However, game time hasn’t always been a guarantee for the English under-21 international. He has featured in a total of 18 games across all competitions but just five of those have been starts with the rest coming from the bench.
It will be difficult for the London born teenager to fully emulate Sancho’s emphatic rise to the England first-team but it will most certainly be his target to hit the heights that his compatriot has managed in the last 12 months.
Last modified: 6th February 2019