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Reiss Nelson, Arsenal and Hoffenheim's NxGn starlet making the best of his opportunities

12:00 GMT+3 22/12/2018
Reiss Nelson
The young wide attacker has taken to German football like a duck to water and is bound to further his development in 2019

Reiss Nelson made 16 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions last season, garnering 764 minutes of action, which roughly equates to nine full matches.

Such an amount of game-time isn't terrible for a teenage prospect - Nelson turned 19 on 10th December - and chances are Unai Emery may have afforded him more opportunities at The Emirates this season than Arsene Wenger managed to in the prior campaign; the Frenchman's infrequent usage of Nelson frustrated Arsenal fans, with many believing the England youth international could develop into the wide attacking player the Gunners are seemingly crying out for.

But rather than waiting in hope for opportunities to come his way, Nelson, who is close friends with compatriot and Borussia Dortmund whirlwind Jadon Sancho, sought out a place which would provide him with significant game-time this season.

A gaggle of clubs were interested, but Hoffenheim, not only able to offer him regular minutes but also the glorious bonus of the Champions League, were the side Nelson plumped for. It's safe to say his decision has already paid off.

With 17 appearances already under his belt, five of them coming from the start, the Southwark-born star has notched six goals and assisted one more. An impressive initial return, made all the more stirring when you realise he has only had 19 shots this season. 

A tricky wide player able to operate effectively on either flank, there is certainly more than goals to Nelson's game: he has completed 18/28 dribbles in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League, including 8/10 in Europe's premier club competition, and has a seasonal passing accuracy of 87% this season, executing on average one key pass per game.

His contributions so far this campaign suggest that he is currently best utilised from the substitutes' bench against tiring defences - much like Sancho a few months ago - but his rate of progress has not gone unnoticed by Arsenal boss Emery, who will already be thinking about how best to integrate the youngster into his side for next season; the Gunners made sure Nelson signed a long-term contract before joining Hoffenheim for the season.

“Firstly, we are happy when one player is leaving to play [on loan], take responsibility, take rhythm and take a high level like Reiss Nelson in Hoffenheim,” Emery said last month. "We are following him and his performances, his good performances, and also his playing minutes.

“For us, it’s very important to follow him and his performances that he’s giving. His progress has been great. In pre-season he worked with us but here minutes and responsibilities are more difficult because he’s young and the decision to leave is important for him and for us."

If 2018 is anything to go by, Nelson is well on course to becoming an Arsenal regular when he returns to north London in the summer of 2019, and an England call-up surely beckons.