Reiss Nelson is set to leave Arsenal for German side Hoffenheim.
Nelson joins Stephy Mavididi (Juventus), Marcus McGuane (Barcelona), Chris Willock (Benfica), Donyell Malen (PSV), Kaylen Hinds (VfL Wolfsburg), Daniel Crowley (Willem II) and Vlad Dragomir (Perugia) to have left the club in the last 12 months for a new challenge abroad.
Whilst the mass exodus has not massively concerned me – none of them really showed themselves as having the ability to become a regular in Arsenal’s first team squad, Nelson is a bit of a surprise.
He is still just 18 and has had some exposure to the first team, having made 16 appearances last year.
Where as many of the others to have left us saw their places blocked by more talented team mates (Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock), there was not really a youngster ahead of Nelson.
Arsenal’s lack of natural width, and lack of investment this summer in the wide positions, would have seen him compete against Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck to play for Unai Emery.
It is not exactly a list of top draw wingers. In fact none of them are exactly wingers, all preferring to play inside or upfront.
With so few natural wingers at Arsenal, Nelson would surely have got a decent amount of game time.
As with all the kids to have left Arsenal, I them all the luck.
I doubt moving to Germany is a financial decision. The contract on the table from Arsenal would have been richer than the Hoffenheim one. Like many of the other youngsters, perhaps Nelson just felt that he would not get the opportunity to play at Arsenal.
The easy option for him, and many others, would be similar to what happens at Chelsea.
To sign a new 4 or 5 year deal. Earn about £5million, and spend the time being loaned out throughout England. To the likes of Huddersfield, Reading, Bolton, Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons (the path taken by Benik Afobe).
Moving abroad shows courage. It also shows a lack of faith or belief from Nelson that he would get a chance lower down in the Premier League.
There is a feeling that talented young attacking players will not get their chance in mid to lower Premier League sides. Teams who shun attacking football in favour of putting 6 defenders on the pitch. Trying to not lose a game rather than win.
The fear for Nelson would be that he joins someone like Burnley, Huddersfield or Cardiff, but is not given that chance and ends up with a season on the bench.
When teams are facing a relegation battle, they tend to pick experience over youth. Serge Gnabry a perfect example during his loan spell at WBA. Tony Pullis just did not want to take the risk on a teenage talent.
In somewhere like Germany, or Portugal or Italy, the financial punishments of being relegated are not as vast as they are in England. Lower teams in these countries are usually more than happy giving youngsters a chance; knowing that their main source of income is actually selling these players on.
In Germany, the situation at the moment is that Bayern Munich are winning everything for the forceable. This creates a situation where a lot of the enjoyment for fans of mid-table clubs is bringing through youngsters. Seeing academy kids get their chance.
German mid-table sides are just a much better environment for a young kid to get a chance than mid-table Premier League sides.
The amount of money in English football now puts so much pressure on managers for instant success which in turn is causing clubs to kill youth football as said managers are scared to play the kids.
Why would you sit at Manchester United knowing Jose Mourinho will not play you? Or at Manchester City knowing the next £60million signing is just a couple of months away?
Even a side like West Ham.
This summer the Hammers signed Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Perez this summer. Why did they not take a chance of Nelson?
They signed 32 year old Aston Villa flop Carlos Sanchez over blooding through Reece Oxford (is he even still there?) or another youngster.
Whilst Chelsea and Manchester City have dominated the FA Youth Cups in recent seasons, and England age groups performed well on an international stage, there is still a huge problem with young kids getting their chance at a Premier League club.