Hector Bellerin has backed Arsene Wenger’s decision to field Reiss Nelson as a makeshift wing-back this season.
The teenager shot to prominence during the summer with a string of eye-catching displays and has subsequently been in sensational form for Arsenal’s Under-23s.
Nelson has been rewarded for his rapid progress with seven first team appearances already this term and is likely to feature again in Thursday’s Europa League clash against FC Koln.
Rather than field the 17-year-old in his favoured No.10 role, Wenger has opted to deploy Nelson in an unfamiliar defensive role to aid his long-term development. The move has been criticised by the likes of Thierry Henry, but Bellerin is confident his manager’s decision will reap rewards eventually.
‘Reiss is one of the players who, since they’ve stepped on to the first-team training pitch, has shown that there’s something quite different about him,’ the 22-year-old told Arsenal Player.
‘He’s got a great attitude, he’s got a great style of play and is someone who, when he goes to the under-23s now, he will go and score every single week. He’s someone who we’re really happy to have. When you compete against teams in the Europa League and you’re able to adapt from a No 10 role to a wing-back role, I think that’s remarkable at that age
‘He needs to keep his feet on the floor in the same way that he’s been doing up until now and, if he keeps going the way he’s going, I’m sure he will have a great career. It’s a great opportunity for him to be able to play in these competitions now and I think he’s taking his opportunities really well.
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‘When you come from an attacking role and you’re put in a position to defend, I think the most important thing to do is listen to the players around you, especially when he’s got the opportunity to play alongside people like Mathieu Debuchy who have played at the top level for a long time.
‘It’s about listening to them, communicating with them and asking questions. For any player who changes position, I think that’s the most important thing. Then when he gets into those situations, is comfortable and can get at the other end of the pitch, just let it flow in the same way he does for the under-23s, and create chances like he does.’