Mikel Arteta is confident that Reiss Nelson can become a “top player” for Arsenal – provided that he maintains his current attitude and approach.

Nelson is considered one of the club’s most promising youngsters and has started in three of the Gunners’ five games since Arteta took charge last month.

The 20-year-old struggled to feature regularly during Unai Emery’s tenure at the Emirates Stadium and spent last season on loan with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim.

Arteta was praised for his one-on-one work with the likes of Raheem Sterling during his time as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City and is now looking to have a similar impact on Nelson.

The Spaniard helped coach the winger as a 16-year-old while he was working with Arsenal’s academy, and although he was reluctant to draw comparisons with Sterling, he said he has been impressed by what he’s seen from Nelson.

Mikel Arteta believes Reiss Nelson has the potential to do “whatever he wants”

“I wouldn’t like to compare [with Sterling], what I will say is that Reiss has the potential to do whatever he wants,” Arteta said ahead of Saturday’s game against Sheffield United.

“If he wants to do it, wants to learn and wants to challenge himself he can be a top, top player for this football club.

“At the moment I think he is on the right path, with the right attitude and then there are a lot of factors: he needs to deal with pressure, deliver every three days, score more goals and make the difference more for the team because he has the quality to do that.

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“I know Reiss because I coached him when he was 16 and straight away he caught my eye. He is a boy that is willing to learn and loves the game but I think he has been a little bit confused in the last few years – what direction he had to take, some of the decisions that he made.

Mikel Arteta said he is prepared to use ‘a little bit of a stick’ to keep Nelson on track

“Now I can see that he really wants it and I think he has the potential to do whatever he wants. He needs guidance, he needs a little bit of a stick, and he’s up for it. I put him in to play and I trust him because he wants it and I think he can deliver.”

Arteta believes things came “too easy” to Nelson in his early years with the club and could have held him back, but feels he is back on the right track.

He said: “If he wants to play for this club every three days, when you have to step in there you have to be almost perfect and at the moment I see this kind of attitude and desire.

“Because he was that good when he was young, everything was too easy for him.

Nelson has impressed in recent appearances for Arsenal

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“You have a lot of habits and those habits have to be taken away and replaced with new ones and he has done that very quickly, much quicker than I thought and that is why he has been playing.”

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Despite showing impressive moments during his loan spell with Hoffenheim, Nelson revealed in March that he had “disciplinary issues” that saw him dropped towards the end of his time in Germany.

But Arteta is sure that the 20-year-old has learned from his mistakes, adding: “I think we were all confused at some stage in our careers.

“Even when you do that well and people talk about you, you tend to relax and then you see the picture as a little bit dirty.

“I think his picture now is very clear, what he wants, what we want from him and I trust him.”





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