Transfer Talk: Gunners loanee Nelson helping fire Feyenoord
Reiss Nelson is firing on all cylinders at Feyenoord and the Dutch giants are on the brink of European glory.
Having endured a stuttering start to the season, the Arsenal loanee has found his feet in recent months — hitting a rich vein of form for the Eredivisie side.
Ahead of tonight's Europa Conference League final against Roma, we take a look at what the future holds for the Rotterdam outfit's No14.
Injuries have limited Nelson's involvement at Feyenoord this season — but he has still managed four goals and seven assists in Eredivisie and Europa Conference League matches.
The winger has played a combined 1440 minutes in those competitions, meaning he has chipped in with a goal or an assist every 131 minutes on average. That equates to just over two contributions every three games.
His 0.4 assists and 0.5 big chances created per 90 minutes also rank eighth and sixth in the Dutch top flight, respectively.
Nelson is an effective dribbler too. In fact, only six players in the division can better his record of 2.77 take-ons completed per 90.
And an underrated aspect of the 22-year-old's game is his pressing, with no Eredivisie player winning possession in the attacking third more often per 90 than him (1.49).
Hitting the gym
Nelson recently explained how Feyenoord's sports scientists have helped him cope with the intensity of training sessions at the club — preventing the recurring injuries which had been hampering his progress.
He said: "The intensity was pretty high in training. Monday to Wednesday would be pretty tough. At Arsenal, Monday and Tuesday, we'd do more technical stuff.
"So I just had to adapt and with that came a few niggles that I had to treat on my own.
"Now I'm in the gym a bit earlier and leave later, to make sure those niggles don't appear again.
"[Sports scientists] Leigh [Egger], Tim [Janssen] and Ruben [Peeters] are pushing me every day and I'm getting more confidence in doing five minutes of foam rolling, a 10-minute stretch or the one I don't like — the ice bath.
"It's the little things that give you an extra five to 10 games a season."
Nelson's displays in the Netherlands could well have earned him a spot in Arsenal's first-team squad for next term.
The Gunners' presence in Europe means there will be plenty of minutes to go around.
And the poor performances of Nicolas Pepe, who has just two years remaining on his contract, could well see the Ivory Coast international offloaded — creating room for a right winger to provide cover and competition for Bukayo Saka.
Nelson will reportedly hold talks with boss Mikel Arteta to assess his future this summer. An impressive pre-season could be enough to convince the Spanish manager of his qualities.
Premier League potential
Should Nelson fail to sufficiently impress Arteta, however, it may be that the Gunners boss looks to further his development with another loan.
Having already spent time with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim before his spell at Feyenoord, it is likely that this third loan move would be to a Premier League side — in order to give Nelson valuable experience in the English top flight.
However, the Southwark native would have to agree to a contract extension for this to be viable, with just one year remaining on his current deal at Arsenal.
The alternative is that Nelson decides his career is best served by moving elsewhere permanently.
If the former England Under-21s international turns down a new contract — should it be forthcoming — then he will be in a strong position to force through a move away.
After all, Arsenal would hardly be able to refuse his request, or they risk losing him for free in a year's time.
There could be plenty of suitors ready to make their move if he becomes available in the coming months.