The Bundesliga has proven to be something of a safe haven for young English talent over the last couple of seasons. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Ademola Lookman, Reece Oxford and Ryan Kent have all flocked from the English top flight to Germany in recent months, enjoying varying levels of success with Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig et al.
Sancho has continued to flourish with league leaders Dortmund and has since earned a call up to the England side, while Lookman was said to be very keen on returning to Leipzig, but Everton remained staunch in their refusal to part with the former Charlton Athletic star.
The pair's fruitful spells have led to others eyeing up a move to Germany for the sake of their development; namely Reiss Nelson, who joined Hoffenheim from Arsenal on a season-long loan in the summer and has gone from strength-to-strength under Julian Nagelsmann, who has handed the 18-year-old significant amounts of game-time in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League - and has been greatly rewarded for his bold decision.
Rapier-quick with an inordinate amount of tricks in his locker, like Sancho, Nelson is blessed with many technical attributes but a slight physical frame, although he insists his football upbringing primed him to cope with treatment from those with a more athletic physique.
“We would go to the football pitch near my estate and play until it was dark,” Nelson said. “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.”
Nelson was on the cusp of the Arsenal first-team during Arsene Wenger's final season in charge, and many supporters were frustrated by the club's decision to let him leave for Hoffenheim, if only temporarily - but the move has proven extremely beneficial for the England youth international.
In just 327 Bundesliga minutes Nelson has scored six goals from just 12 shots, completed eight successful dribbles and has averaged one key pass per game in both the league and Champions League, where he has been afforded cameo appearances in three of Hoffenheim's four European matches. He has also put in a defensive shift, averaging 1.4 tackles per game in both aforementioned competitions.
Such a prosperous endeavour may not have been materialised without Sancho's advice. The pair regularly played together as children in Southwark and possess similar skillsets, a fact which seemed to convince Sancho that he too could make a name for himself in Germany.
"Jadon knows I like one against ones," Nelson said. "He knows I'm a fast player and said there were a lot of those opportunities [in the Bundesliga]. We've got a lot of similarities so he said I should go over there and that's how I can show my brilliance."
It's still early stages, but Sancho's wise words have worked wonders, both for his old friend Nelson and Hoffenheim.