Arsenal must be careful not to alienate any more of their talented youth prospects as Reiss Nelson is linked to Crystal Palace in a reported swap deal for Wilfried Zaha. Nelson has already been out on loan after enjoying a spell with Hoffenheim last season in the Bundesliga. He scored seven goals in 29 appearances for the German side and has now been impressing fans over in the United States. The Gunners boss Unai Emery has given the youngsters some sort of free rein to display their talents against some elite clubs in Bayern Munich and Fiorentina (Real Madrid is next) so it would seem strange if the 47-year-old wasn’t planning to utilise the ones that perform in some aspect this coming Premier League campaign.
It is true that Arsenal need a winger, particularly on the right flank with Alex Iwobi being the only true out-and-out option in terms of width. Nelson along with Bukayo Saka, James Olayinka and Emile Smith-Rowe are the academy graduates being tried on their pre-season trip. All are considered rising talents amongst the youth setup, particularly by their former gaffer Freddie Ljungberg who has been promoted to help transition these sorts of players into the first-team. Going out and signing 26-year-old Zaha would certainly hinder their prospects in the next couple of years.
In particular with Nelson, having been subject of that very bid for the Ivory Coast winger. The starlet has gone out on loan and proved himself so now it would be the natural progression for him to contend for a spot in the senior side, and even within the starting line-up. Yes, there are benefits to Zaha – he has Premier League experience having played 177 games, scoring 32 goals and assisting 34 more in the competition. He also has the sort of game that perplexes his opposite number on a regular basis but he comes at a hefty price of £80m, one that he simply doesn’t warrant after flopping in his last big move which was to Manchester United. He’s also probably only got a handful of years left at the top-flight as he will be 27 years of age before Christmas whereas a player such as Nelson has well over a decade to make his name – heck, he could even become a club legend.
Arsenal must be careful. They’ve surely learnt their lesson by now. The latest of which falling at the feet of Serge Gnabry who departed the club for a measly £4.5m back in 2016 yet has gone on to sign for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and has performed to such a quality level that he was named their Player of the Season. Nelson could easily follow in the footsteps of fellow compatriot Jadon Sancho if given the chance – we’ll never actually know until he pulls on that red shirt and steps out onto the Emirates carpet this season. He’d save the club an awful amount of money and would be a long-term plug for that wing position.