Nelson new deal signifies Smith Rowe’s exit

I have previously made my opinion on Reiss Nelson clear.

Nelson is not good enough for Arsenal, and his 10 seconds of greatness against Bournemouth does not change that.

I think it is clear that Mikel Arteta also does not fancy him – Nelson has played just 5% of the available this season, highlighting that the Spaniard does not think he is adequete cover or competition for Bukayo Saka.

Nelson has started just 1 Premier League game this season, showing that Arteta does not think Nelson is an option on the right when he wants to give Saka a rest.

Yesterday the news broke that Nelson had agreed a new 4-year deal with Arsenal, following in the footsteps of Saka’s new deal.

Whilst I do not think Nelson is good enough for The Arsenal, that does not mean I do not understand the reasoning for his new deal.

Arsenal have other positions to financially prioritise

We are in the market for at least one new central midfielder – Declan Rice seems to be the top target.

That signing alone will take up a huge chunk of our transfer budget – I expect us to spend £100-150m depending on sales.

On top of the Rice deal, we need a new central defender or full back.

It is a central defender if we choose to continue with Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu at right back. It is a new full back if the team want White to be Saliba’s cover and Tomiyasu to also cover Olexsandr Zinchenko.

I expect that player to be signed for in the region of £15-20m.

Rice and the new defensive option will take us above the £100million mark. There is talk that we are also chasing a 2nd central midfielder (Caicedo, Mount, Zubimendi the names mentioned). That will be the £150m+ spent. We would not have much left in the tank to buy someone who is good enough to compete with Saka.

How about a new striker?

Nelson remaining shows the club might have decided to go down the “new striker” route, rather than sign a winger that can play upfront.

Say we do stretch that transfer budget through generating some exceptional sales, the decision might have been made that another striker is what is coming in.

We might be targetting someone like Dusan Valhovic, or Ivan Toney. And as a sacrifice we will not buy a new winger.

If that happens, we still have plenty of options outwide – Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus and Nelson.

Trossard has proved himself to be a very good signing. His versatility means that he will probably be the 2nd choice on both flanks. A new striker would allow us to utilise Jesus outwide.

So if a new striker comes in, Nelson becomes the 5th choice winger. And would only really play if 3 out of the 5 men ahead of him are out.

This summer, we could ivnest in a 1st/2nd choice striker, or a 4th choice winger. We have spoken about the need to improve the squad by buying players who would be part of a 18 man first team. Moving away from having “1st XI / 2nd XI”. A new striker would certainly follow the philosophy. A 4th choice winger would not.

Emile Smith Rowe exit

A new deal confirms what we have been told, that Emile Smith Rowe will leave this summer.

If Smith Rowe was part of Arteta’s plans, there would be no need to keep Nelson. ESR would play that back-up winger role.

Now a debate can be had over who we should be keeping? Nelson or Smith Rowe.

Smith Rowe is the better player. He is more versatile, can play on both flanks and inside. But he also raises the most funds.

If we are talking about Smith Rowe and Nelson being 5th choice winger, then you sell the one that generates the most money.

Nelson’s contract was set to expire in a month. The most Arsenal would get is £6-8 million compensation if he joined an English team. I would expect Smith Rowe to go for between £20-30m.

£20-30m is a huge sum for a fringe player who has played just 226 minutes this season and is 5th choice. It is money that can be reinvested in the top end of the squad.

Smith Rowe has already arguably been replaced by Trossard. The Belgium is the superior player and, importantly, does not have Smith Rowe’s history of injuries.

A few years ago we made the mistake of not cashing in on Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

In 2020, we closed the door on a £20m move to Wolves for Maitland-Niles. He has played just 748 minutes of Premier League football for Arsenal since we turned down that bid.

That £20m could have been invested elsewhere over the last 3 years. And likewise, turning down £30m+ for Smith Rowe would be a bad decision considering how little game time he will see if we improve the top end of the squad.

So what makes sense is Smith Rowe is moved on. We pocket £30m which gets reinvested. And Nelson takes the role of a 5th choice winger. For a year at least.

Nelson will still leave

If Nelson is only 5th choice winger, and we buy a top striker this summer, he will see very little game time. That means he will probably push to depart next summer.

The new deal will mean that we would get a half decent fee in a years time. And then that money can be reinvested.

A new winger next year

Finally, Nelson staying does not mean a new winger will not join Arsenal. It just means it will probably happen next year.

If we do the business we want to do this year – say Rice, Caicedo, Toney and Sluto – then next summer is when we will go for another top winger.

We should not do a Chelsea. Bring in loads of players in a single season, put them all on long contracts and pray it works. You are basically morgaging your future.

We need to get the squad in a position that Manchester United were in the last 90s / early 00s. The position that Manchester City are in now.

You want to only be making one or two big signings a season. But those two big signings dramatically improve your squad.

Next summer is when we recruit a top level winger. Someone better than Trossard that pushes the Belgium down a level in the pecking order. And as a result pushes Nelson out.

Make small, consistent improvements to your squad is how you stay at the top. It is when clubs make big changes they suffer.

My position on Nelson has not changed. I do not think he is good enough for Arsenal.

But if his new deal results in us spending £150m+ on Rice, Caicedo, Sluto and another top striker, then I am happy. Over to you Edu…

PS: I have seen some comment “why is this deal getting done before William Saliba’s. That should have been a priority”. Learn how business works. Just because one deal happens before another, it does not mean it was prioritised. It just means it was agreed earlier.

Football is not linear. You do not work on one deal at the time, and then only work on the next deal once the first one has been completed. Edu and his team will be in multiple discussions with multiple players over new deals. They all just get completed at a different pace.

And it is the same for transfers. Some just take longer than others to get over the line. Just because the first signing of the season might be an unknown, might not be Declan Rice, it does not mean that we prioritised that deal. It just means that deal happened quicker.



4 thoughts on “Nelson new deal signifies Smith Rowe’s exit

  1. Mike Ram

    We have a very young core of Arsenal born and bred players ready to contribute when necessary. It’s good to have as many as useful local players in a challenging team as per requirement for EPL and CL registration. We can’t many foreign players as we like because we won’t be able to play them due to these rules. If we think our first eleven are bound to improve next season, why not think of same about the fringe players? Nelson, ESR, Nketiah and Saka are Arsenal fans. They never complained, never shy away and never stop supporting the team. They deserve more time and chances. I’m very happy that this happened. Keep all the existing youngsters, play them, beat them and give them hell. Once they become men, they will be good.


  2. Me

    Ivan Toney?
    After admitting he bet on his own team to lose thirteen times?
    Arsenal would never go within a country mile of him. The only team who would want him is Brentford.
    Or Spurs.


  3. David Woon

    Keenos, don’t be an expert when you’re not one. Your comments are just your own biased views and doesn’t mean nothing. You wanna buy all the best players, but where do you feed them in the team. Do you think that they will willingly take a back seat role.


    1. keenosafc Post author

      Imagine complaining that someone shares their own views in the own blog…

      We will play 50+ games next season. There is plenty of game time to accommodate 18 top players and keep them all happy.



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