Mikel Arteta insists Reiss Nelson can still force his way into regular starting contention at Arsenal despite the winger snubbing the chance to go on loan.
The 20-year-old could have embarked on another temporary switch elsewhere this summer, having done so impressively with German club Hoffenheim during the 2018/19 season.
Nelson’s opportunities to break into Arteta’s side are limited, with Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Willian and Bukayo Saka all ahead of him.
So far he has made just two appearances all season – although one of those was as an 89th minute substitute in last week’s win over Rapid Vienna.
Yet despite failing to be included for a single Premier League matchday squad thus far, Arteta says the door is still open for the youngster.
“We ended up with a large squad at the end of the transfer market,” Arteta told a press conference on Wednesday.
“We had a few plans in mind with Reiss. One of them was as well to send him on loan to get more minutes because of the competition we have upfront.
“The reality is he has been really good in training. He wants to stay here. He wants to fight for his place.”
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Quizzed on what prompted Nelson to turn down a move, Arteta replied: “It was mixed reasons. Reiss was really convinced that he wanted to fight to stay here.
“When you see that willingness and that passion and that security in a player you feel tempted to keep him even though you know that opportunities are going to be restricted and he is not going to have a lot of continuity in his play.
“But things change very quickly and if he starts playing and playing well and he does what he can do, why not? He could start to play more games.”
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Nelson could even make his third appearance of the campaign against Dundalk in Arsenal’s second Europa League group stage fixture on Thursday.
“He is going to get the chances in the right moments,” Arteta added. “What I am pleased with is how he has assimilated the situation – not playing a lot of minutes in the first few weeks.
“As everybody can see, things are changing very quickly. We are getting injuries. We will get more injuries because of the schedule that we have and he will get the opportunities.
“Then it will come down to him to take them or not.”