Robin van Persie and Bukayo Saka react as Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson reaches the European final

Reiss Nelson barely played for Arsenal last season but has started to find his form and helped Feyenoord reach the Conference League final with a semi-final win over Marseille

Arsenal loanee Reiss Nelson celebrates after helping Feyenoord reach the Conference League Final
Arsenal loanee Reiss Nelson celebrates after helping Feyenoord reach the Conference League Final

Arsenal loanout Reiss Nelson has found his form in recent weeks and is now preparing for a European final, much to the delight of Robin van Persie and Bukayo Saka.

The Feyenoord winger started in both semi-finals as the Dutch beat Marseille to secure their place in the showcase final in Tirana on 25 May. The Eredivise side take on Jose Mourinho’s Roma after beating Leicester City.

Injuries prevented Nelson from making an impact at Arsenal last season, with the promising winger limited to just two substitute appearances. The loan to Feyenoord appeared to follow a similar pattern, with a groin problem preventing the 22-year-old from becoming a regular until December.

However, the Gunners’ loanee is beginning to make an impact at the business end of the season, with six consecutive Eredivisie starts, having two goals and three assists in his last three games. Nelson has also started all five Conference League knockout games and registered three other assists.

Thursday night’s goalless draw at the Stade Velodrome gave Feyenoord a 3-2 aggregate win, with Nelson edging out rival Arsenal loanees Matteo Guendouzi and William Saliba. The Feyenoord star took to social media to celebrate and was complimented by a host of past and present Gunners stars.

Arsenal legend Van Persie and rising star Saka praised Nelson, as did England international Jadon Sancho. The winger’s post on Instagram has already garnered more than 37,000 likes.

Nelson has one year left on his current Arsenal contract and it remains to be seen if he fits into Mikel Arteta’s plans for next season. Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith-Rowe and Saka have established them as first-choice wingers, although European football could offer more opportunities for the loanee upon his return.

On his own development, Nelson told Feyenoord’s YouTube channel last month: “[My development] is getting stronger and it’s good that now I’m developing the way I should be and it’s always nice to get the rewards like the assist and the goal.

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Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson impresses on loan at Feyenoord

“It’s easy for me to have a high pace for over 90 minutes, be strong in my tackles and 1v1s and feel really free in my movement, that’s the most important thing for me.”

Arteta expressed his sympathy for Nelson towards the end of last season, admitting it was his “fault” the winger wasn’t getting more playing time. The Gunners boss hinted at the competition in the squad when explaining his absence following their 2-0 win at Newcastle United in May last year.

Arteta told Football.London: “With Reiss, I’d like to give him more. He’s a boy who trains really hard, he wants to do better all the time, but it’s very difficult at the moment with the players that we have to adapt to him. I’m sorry we don’t have other competitions to use him because he deserved more. If he doesn’t play anymore, it’s my fault.”

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