Mikel Arteta has revealed Reiss Nelson’s show of ‘willingness and passion’ was one of the reasons why the Arsenal winger was not sent out on loan for this season.
The 20-year-old graduated from the Gunners’ academy in 2017 as one of the exciting young prospects to have been brought through at Hale End.
After a season-long loan at Hoffenheim in the 2018-19 season, Nelson returned to the Emirates with high hopes of nailing down a regular starting berth at the north London club.
The forward made 17 Premier League appearances in the 2019-20 campaign, however, his only start for the first team so far this season came in the 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Leicester back in September.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League clash against Dundalk on Thursday. Arteta admitted that the club had planned on sending out Nelson out on loan in the last transfer window.
‘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.
When pressed on why Nelson remained at the Emirates this summer, Arteta said: ‘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?’
‘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.’