Sunday, May 26, 2024

Nelson admits he needed Arteta to persuade him to stay

Reiss Nelson admits he needed to be convinced there was a place for him at Arsenal before he signed a new contract with the club. 

Having had limited game time at the club since signing his previous deal in 2018 – the 23-year-old’s total time on the pitch as a Gunner still doesn’t amount to a full season’s worth – it was widely assumed he’d depart as a free agent at the end of June. 

Instead, buoyed by what they’d seen from the winger across several cameo appearances last season, the Gunners, led by manager Mikel Arteta, pulled out all the stops to get him to stay even though Bukayo Saka sits ahead of him in the pecking order. 

In an interview with ESPN, Nelson admitted he needed to be persuaded to put pen to paper. 

“Yeah, because I feel like I’m at a stage now of my career where football is important to me. Of course, with Arsenal, it’s the team I love and the team I’ve been at since I was like eight years old. There comes a time where you think about also playing football as well. 

“I spoke with Mikel quite a lot of times and he kind of explained the route that he sees for me and the transition that he’s seen in me from previous years to now. We had a good conversation and that changed my mind and I signed.”

“I feel like I took my chances when my chances were there [last season]. I feel as a player, sometimes you’re just constantly just waiting, waiting, waiting, and then when you get your chance, you might not be ready for your chance, you know, but I thought I was working in the back with a lot of the guys, a lot of the guys were training quite hard with me as well, and I think when I got opportunities to play, I kind of showed what I can do in the minutes that I got.”

Indeed he did. Nelson not only scored a brace against Nottingham Forest as a second half substitute, he also inspired the Gunners to a 3-2 comeback victory over Bournemouth with an assist and last-gasp winner. He was later voted the Premier League’s Gamechanger of the Season for 2023/24. 

Reflecting on how Arteta motivated him just prior to being sent on against the Cherries, he said: “I felt like in that moment he saw the left-hand side was open for me to use my attributes, and he just told me, ‘I want you to, every time you get the ball, get at your man. I don’t care if you lose it, just keep using the ball.’

“Some managers say, play it safe and stuff like that, but he wants you to take the risk. We talk about risk for reward and I felt like a lot of the time for him, if the reward’s high, you go for it. At that time, we were losing, so it benefited us.”

Asked what his targets are for the new season and whether those types of discussions have happened with the club, Nelson raised the issue of staying fit. Unfortunately, having missed a couple of weeks of pre-season, it looks like he’s already a doubt for Saturday’s season opener with Nottingham Forest. 

“I spoke with the boss about it [setting targets]. I said, look, like for me, this season I want to kind of set in stone some things that I need to hit. We spoke about that, he said, ‘This is what I think you need to work on’. I said, ‘I feel like I need to work on this’.  

“We came to a conclusion and we sit down and we kind of go through the things I need to work on and hit targets, you know. But for me, it’s just about being available. Like I said, injuries is one of the ones where I missed 17 games last season. So it’s not one of the ones where I want to be missing any games for any niggles and stuff like that. I want to be available and help the team.”

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It’s interesting to see that Arteta isn’t as averse to risk as we might have thought


don’t say we


Not sure quite what you mean, but why the down votes? Seems a fair point that the jury has been put on Reiss since he came back to Arsenal, but also what we can say is he 100% took his chances so can see why Arteta would back him.


Don’t think there’s anyone in our squad I’m rooting for more than this guy. It’s really hard to see him make any of the starting spots his own, or even Trossard’s “12th man impacter” spot, but man if he could, or if he could even just make it a serious competition to the point he’s a quality rotation option when we have two games a week it would be such a beautiful story.

Funsho Patrick

Stranger things have happened…no one saw tomiyasu losing his shirt or Ben white ending the season as first choice right back last season…same way no one could have predicted Saliba’s influence or Tierney’s decline…who saw trossard coming? My point is that football matches have become about 105minutes long on the average and across so many fronts we’ll use the whole squad! Injuries quickly change starting players…smith Rowe comes to mind…can barely get a shout…just train and bid your time…. Something Flo doesn’t seem to care much about…

Man Manny

I quite understand Flo, and I don’t think the slight dig is necessary. He has had a taste of first team football – playing week in, week out – and wants more of the same this season. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. He has to think of kicking on rather than another season on the bench which can undo all the gains of last season. I am even surprised Reiss Nelson agreed to a new contract in spite of the odds stacked against him in the team. I suspect he’ll be gone after this season because I can’t… Read more »


Since Oxlade-Chamberlain, I’ve been much less sympathetic to this argument. These guys are getting bad “you can have it all” advice.


Why can’t he have it all? As long as he understands that for him to be a nailed on starter he will have to go to a team with a drop in quality then I see no reason he cant be that first name on the team sheet player. The lad just wants to do what he loves, and that involved being on a pitch being competitive and scoring goals. Anyone who has played, even just crappy Sunday league level, knows that being a sub each week sucks. And it sucks doubly if you know that you are good enough… Read more »


But he’s not good enough to be on the pitch ATM…


Understandable, but he is trying to take a first team place from Saka. Highly unlikely, but if he can manage it he deserves it.


He’ll probably get some game time on the left wing, but like Nketiah it’s going to be reliant on the first choice players getting injured. Martinelli and Saka were robust last season and Trossard and Vieira are probably ahead of him on the flanks. I think him signing was more to protect his monetary value. We could still generate 10-15 million if its clear he’s not getting a proper look in.


I don’t think Arteta really sees Vieira on the flanks, he’s only played there in preseason because of Reiss’ injury or in end of game situations when we need to hold on to a lead. ESR is probably slightly ahead of him on the left, Trossard definitely, but on the right I think he’s directly behind Saka on the depth chart when fully fit.

Fingers crossed he stays fully fit.

Anders Limpar

Saka looked very tired at the end of last season and he didn’t look 100% in charity shield imo. As valuable and special as he is he can’t play every game this year including CL, so I think Nelson will see more action than just injury cover.


We do have a player there with Reiss, his injuries have haven’t helped his development, he’s bottom of the queue behind Trossard, EMS, Vieira who are all competing with Martinelli, Saka, Havertz and captain Odergaurd for 1st choice, i get the feeling he will play well on the occasions given and do a Willock, either In the Jan or next season.


Off topic. The red card for the English player brought caused references to Beckham’s 98 red card. I was in England at the time and saw the red card in a bar and watched replays again yesterday.
someone please explain why Beckham’s action deserved red. I just don’t see it. Always felt the Argentine play play acted. Dove.

Spanish Gooner

I think it’s more part of the media desire to cast James as a prodigy who had a silly moment and draw the Beckham narrative rather than any similarity in fouls. It reminded me much more of Rooney’s idiotic red card in 2006 and she was lucky England won on penalties this time. I remember Tim Stillman a while back talking about a refereeing issue in the women’s game where bad tackles aren’t properly punished because the women aren’t seen as being capable of malice or deliberately endangering their colleagues the way male players are, and I think the Beckham… Read more »


Rooney is a good point. I remember that now.
women officials are generally poor. Add to that the point you made.
women officials in the nfl are terrible btw.

but why was Beckham given red? Vagaries of interpretation? Or was it violent conduct?


the fella he kicked happens to be atletico Madrid‘s coach now? 😀


Considering we now have Champions League to contend with as well as our late season decline on Arteta’s mind, I can see us integrating our whole squad with the minutes trickling down from some of our 1st choice guys that may have been overused last season. Saka is a prime example, and I think Mikel may try to ease the burden on him a bit this season and Nelson is agreat candidate to be on the receiving end of those minutes.

Spanish Gooner

Something that should be useful for Nelson (and Vieira and Smith Rose too I believe) is we won’t be able to have as many fully rotated teams in the Champions League, so rather than coming into a team with 5/6/7 changes every two weeks, we’ll have to regularly make 1/2 changes for every game, giving the bench options a proper chance with the first team. Something like Nelson Jesus Saka Rice Partey Vieira In a game where we need some rotation to keep legs fresh but can’t fully rotate like a Europa League game will really help Nelson show the… Read more »


Saka needs some competition. Saka does have strings of games where he is a bit anonymous, maybe knowing Nelson or someone is right there waiting for a misstep will add a bit of extra motivation for him, either way I think keeping Nelson is good, at least for this season.


I don’t really buy this. Even at 21 Saka is a seasoned pro and gives 100% ecru game. If he’s quiet it’s cos he’s tired or defended against well, not due to his work rate. So we definitely need competition and back up to ease his load, but I don’t think it will be changing his effort levels.


It’s not effort exactly. More of a sharpness thing. The old adage “iron sharpens iron” comes to mind. When you are a guaranteed starter you get comfortable and complacent. No player gives 100% EVERY time, they aren’t robots and sometimes form dips.


There was a lot more to Nelson’s contribution at the of last season than That Goal. More often than not he looked threatening when he came on, often in unfavourable game-states, and proved himself a handful for defenders with his running and his final ball. I hope he gets used a bit more often and a bit sooner by Arteta if the occasion calls for it.


Part of Arteta’s “Finishers” group that were so effective against City.

We have a lot of games this season and going by the rule changes they’re going to be longer.

It’s great to have players chomping at the bit for minutes keeping the starting XI on their toes. If we want to be successful this year we’ll need to make use of the whole squad.


He should get ample opportunity, got a lot of games and we’ll inevitably have some injuries as well. Something that stood out to me last season were how many more minutes Saka and Martinelli were doing than Grealish and Silva, who were readily relieved by Mahrez, Foden, Alvarez etc. I’m sure that wouldn’t have escaped Arteta’s attention when looking at Nelson and others.


That’s true the way modern football is played, the amount of running and pressing every player has to do, it’s kind of insane to require a player to play 50 full games a season in that intensity. Arteta did say that but I think he might have referred to 38 starts and 12 off the bench or something of that ilk. If you ask so much of players tactically, and he does, you just can’t play them regularly twice a week for 90mins.

Giuseppe Hovno


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