There is usually at least one young player who grabs the chances handed to them by Arsene Wenger during the annual Arsenal pre-season training and friendly games, impressing both the fans and more importantly the manager with their ability.
The most recent young Gunner to do this and then break into the Arsenal first team was Jeff Reine-Adelaide and other notable recent examples are Chuba Akpom and Chris Willock, but the most successful graduates from the Arsenal academy in recent years are Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi.
The fact that we do not see too many very promising young players making the step up shows just how tough it is, but we could be about to see the latest Arsenal academy graduate who will make the grade in the shape of Reiss Nelson who put in a very impressive performance on the right flank as Arsenal beat Sydney FC in the first of the pre-season matches.
As reported on the Arsenal website, Wenger was full of praise for the 17-year old and suggested that he takes to playing in the side with top quality players very naturally. He certainly seemed right at home rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ozil, Walcott and Welbeck.
The boss said, “Since I’ve been in the game I’ve understood that you either have that [confidence] at 17 years of age or you don’t.
“Some of the players I’ve had in my career have turned 18 years old and it seems natural for them to be on the pitch. They just think, ‘Let’s play’ and Reiss behaves like that.
“They all did well today, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock as well had a very strong performance. They are young, just 17 or 18 years old, so that is very promising.
“Pre-season is there for that, for me to understand how close they are. It’s the first game, it’s a bit early. What they’ve shown tonight means they have the chance of being very, very close.”
What did you make of young Nelson? Will he be the next to get regular first team action with Arsenal?