Arsenal

Arsenal: Ray Parlour backs teenage duo to make first-team impact

Arsenal: Ray Parlour backs teenage duo to make first-team impact

‘A real opportunity’ – Ray Parlour tips youngsters to make Arsenal first-team breakthrough

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour believes that youngsters Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have an excellent opportunity to break into the Gunners first team this season.

19-year-old Willock only had a handful of opportunities in the senior side last year, but still ended the campaign with three goals from six appearances in all competitions – the last of which was a lively cameo in Arsenal’s Europa League final defeat to Chelsea.

Willock has also started pre-season in fine form, scoring in the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Fiorentina during Arsenal’s tour of the United States.

Meanwhile, Reiss Nelson has been integrated into the first-team picture alongside Willock on tour following his promising loan spell at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga which drew comparison with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

Nelson scored six times in his first two months in Germany and it seems as though he has been rewarded by being included in the first-team squad’s trip to the US.

And Gunners legend Parlour believes both could be handed an opportunity for a run in the first-team picture with little being added to the Arsenal squad in the transfer window – bar another youngster in the shape of Gabriel Martinelli’s arrival from Brazilian side Ituano.

Parlour told ESPN (via The Daily Express): “Joe Willock, young midfielder, has come into the team and he might have an opportunity this year.

“So it’s a real opportunity for the young players, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, to put pressure on the manager to maybe put them into the starting lineup.”

With options dwindling out wide before (and arguably after) the arrival of Martinelli, Arsenal’s depth in that area will undoubtedly be helped by the inclusion of Nelson in the first team.

Likewise, adding Willock as an extra reinforcement in central midfield means that the Gunners can focus on using their reportedly lowly transfer budget on other areas – and look to be doing so with the club thought to be close to a deal for Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, for example.

Though with the promise that both Willock and Nelson have both shown over the past year or so both at and away from Arsenal, their potential place among the senior players is by no means undeserved.

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