Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal were weighing up sending Reiss Nelson out on loan but decided to keep the England under-21 international when he expressed a desire to stay and fight for his place.
Having made only one start so far this season – against Leicester in the Carabao Cup – the winger may be wondering whether he made the right decision but the boss maintains the academy graduate will get opportunities to play as injuries and a packed schedule take a toll on his squad.
Facing the press ahead of the Gunners’ Europa League group stage clash with Irish side Dundalk, Arteta was asked why Nelson, in light of his lack of minutes, was retained.
“It was mixed reasons, Reiss was really convinced that he wanted to fight to stay here,” he explained.
“And when you see that willingness and that passion and that security in a player, you feel tempted to keep him even though you know that opportunities are going to be restricted and he is not going to have a lot of continuity in his play.
“We ended up with a large squad at the end of the transfer market. We had a few plans in mind with Reiss. One of them was as well to send him on loan to get more minutes because of the competition we have upfront.
“But things change very quickly and if he starts playing, and playing well, and he does what he can do, why not? He could start to play more games.”
He added: “The reality is he has been really good in training. He wants to stay here. He wants to fight for his place.
“That is what he is doing and he is going to get the chances in the right moments. What I am pleased with is how he has assimilated the situation – not playing a lot of minutes in the first few weeks.
“As everybody can see, things are changing very quickly. We are getting injuries. We will get more injuries because of the schedule that we have and he will get the opportunities. Then it will come down to him to take them or not.
“I try to have a very open communication with the players and try to get the doubts out of their mind, and try to talk clearly when they play or don’t play the reasons behind that.
“Most of the time they haven’t done anything wrong, it is just because there is a lot of competition for these positions and we are favouring other players in that moment. That’s it.”