The young Englishman Reiss Nelson was released on loan to the Bundesliga and is now wearing Hoffenheim’s shirt. He was performing quite solid for Arsenal in pre-season, but the manager Unai Emery wasn’t convinced enough so he decided that a loan deal at the German team would be a great challenge and opportunity for him to prove his qualities.
But did he manage to do it so far in this season or has he missed the few chances he’s been given?
His impact on Hoffenheim’s performance
Nelson was in the starting XI only against Hannover 96, with him coming on as a sub in three other fixtures – Fortuna Düsseldorf, Shakhtar Donetsk (CL) and Eintracht Frankfurt. Having in mind the short playing time he was given the guy already has two goals for the team and both have been scored after he came on as a substitute. His overall impact to Hoffenheim’s game is immense as the guy is bringing more explosiveness, freshness and creativity to the most of the times tired squad.
He played only 18 minutes in his first game for Die Kraichgauer against Fortuna Düsseldorf. He had a passing accuracy percentage of 90%, managed to send 2 accurate long balls, won half of his duels and made one successful tackle. And on top of that, he scored an equaliser in the 86th minute.
He took part in the Champions League fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk too, but he came on during the extra time. He then made his first start for the team against Hannover 96 and played for 45 minutes. His indicators weren’t as good as before but despite that, he had some shots off target.
Last weekend he came on as a sub against Frankfurt and he proved his abilities once again. His passing accuracy was 93% and he won 5/6 of his duels. His great dribbling skills once again helped him keep the possession of the ball or get it back. He tackled his opponents successfully on two occasions and had one of his shots blocked. The team was already 2-0 down when he made a great run on his own, won a couple offensive duels and scored.
Twenty minutes after coming in he found himself in a good position to attack. He received a pass from Demirbay and decided not to pass but make a run on his own. And it turned out to be the right decision. His confidence going against four opposition players was impressive and it allowed him to win his offensive duels against them, exploit the gap left by the defence in the box and run towards it to score from a great angle.
His goal against Fortuna was a bit different. This situation showed his great decision-making. He won the loose ball duel with Bodzek and saw the free space behind defender’s back. He then decided to use it beating his opponent’s pressing duel and equalising from the edge of the goal area.
In here he recovered the ball, won his duel with Fernandes and started a counter attack. Despite having some options for a pass, he decided to make a run and pass the central area. Then he saw Joelinton on his left and gave the ball to him. He used his speed to create an opportunity for his team. Joelinton then reached the edge of the box where he was fouled.
On and off the ball skills
His dribbling skills are often crucial for the team. His aggressive style of play can’t be controlled by his opponents and they often find themselves fooled leaving him to exploit the gaps left by them. In here he dribbled past both defenders and made a great cross from the edge of the box, but the keeper went out of his zone to get the ball.
He shows some great off the ball moves too. He is always focused enough so he can position himself in the small spaces left by the defence. In this situation, he reached the edge of the box behind the defenders’ backs. He saw the free area and so did Schulz who made a short pass to the edge of the goal area where Nelson used his speed to reach the ball and make a pass.
He positions himself defensively too. He saw the danger against Frankfurt and made a run towards the box as Hoffenheim’s defensive transition wasn’t well done. He then went inside the box and man-marked Kostic so he won’t be able to receive the ball.
Reiss Nelson’s array of skills are useful in every area of the pitch. He can play in a few positions and do equally well in all of them. He has the speed, the vision and the creativity that are helping Hoffenheim in crucial moments. If he uses this set of skills at Arsenal he could be a great team player and deliver into the box as well as score on his own. He has strong decision-making, great dribbling and can always position the best so he can help his team in the build-up of an attack or during the defensive transition. He is definitely doing what he is supposed to in the Bundesliga and is going to be a more complete player at the end of his spell there. And I should admit that I hope Unai Emery finds him good enough to include him in his plans.