This morning there is a terrific interview on the BBC with England youngsters Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson. The duo are currently ripping up the Bundesliga.
The pair – who have been friends since before they were teens – moved to Germany in the search for first team football. Sancho joined; Nelson joining Hoffenheim on loan from Arsenal.
Between them they have scored 11 goals and made 8 assists in all competitions, form that has led to Sancho to be called up to the England national team.
Despite both being 18; the interview showed that they both have sensible heads on their young shoulders.
There is not a hint of arrogance in either. Neither comes across as a party boy. Both talk about their families. Both talk about how they know they have talent, and know they have to work hard to be the best.
Over the years we have seen plenty of young talented footballers. Most have the wrong attitude. They get the money early, a contract which will make them £5million over 5 years, and they fade away. They get that first contract on their potential rather than their performances, they take the foot off the pedal, become more interested in cars, girls and social media, and eventually fade away.
By moving to Germany both Sancho and Nelson have already shown they have a different mind set. They did not want to be the big man amongst their mates. Paying for the all vodkas in Tiger Tiger VIP whilst surrounded by girls looking to bag (or bang) a footballer. They took themselves out of their comfort zone, to Germany, to improve.
Nelson is living in Heidelberg with his family. A university town with just 160,000 residents – it is the equivalent of living in Oxford or Cambridge. That is half the people that grew up in the Borough of Southwark – where Nelson grew up. To go from a 10,000,000 city to a 160,000 town would have required huge adjustments. He has adjusted well.
The Arsenal youngster was rumoured to be on his way out of the club a year ago. Instead he signed a new long term deal and moved his life to Germany for a year. He was named Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for October.
A few fans are calling him to make a return in January. This would not be beneficial to either him or Arsenal.
Despite his good form for Hoffenheim, he has only started 4 games. To expect him to go from impact sub in Germany to starter at Arsenal is another huge jump.
He would be much better staying in Germany. Over the year forcing his way in to the first team, to become a first team regular. Once he is playing regularly for the Hoffenheim first team, we will know that he is nearly ready for the Arsenal first team.
By the end of the season, Arsenal will be getting a teenage right winger who has had a full season in one of Europe’s top leagues, and who has excelled in that league. What would his value be? £30m? £40m?
The term “like a new signing” is one that is detested by many Arsenal fans, as it was usually used to justify no signing as we had a player coming back from injury.
In Nelson, he would be like a new signing.
He went away to Germany as a boy struggling to make an impact – just 146 Premier League minutes to his name last season. He is set to come back as a man. A first team player who Gareth Southgate will no longer be able to continue to ignore.
Arsenal need two wingers next season. A right winger and a left winger. Nelson could be that right winger.
With his good attitude, his natural ability and his years experience in Germany, Arsenal would be promoting one of Europe’s best young players into their first team. He would be like a new signing.
Maybe in the summer Arsenal should make the double swoop and bring Sancho back to England. See what Dortmund want. And then have the two most exciting talents in English football either side of Mesut Ozil.
If it all go’s right for Nelson, there is no reason he can not become the Arsenal legend he dreams of.