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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Arsene Wenger impressed by budding Arsenal star Reiss Nelson

French manager suggests 17-year-old right winger has talent and confidence to make Premier League first team soon.

Reiss Nelson of Arsenal in action during the match against Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Thursday. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
Reiss Nelson of Arsenal in action during the match against Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Thursday. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says teenager Reiss Nelson is "very close" to more first-team action after his dazzling performance in the London club's 2-0 pre-season friendly win in Australia.

The 17-year-old player looked a star in the making as he ripped apart the Sydney defence with his pace and on-the-ball skills in Sydney on Thursday.

While record-signing Alexandre Lacazette grabbed the headlines with a goal on his Arsenal debut, it was Nelson who provided Wenger with a glimpse of an outstanding Highbury future.

"Since I've been in the game I've understood that you either have that [confidence] at 17 years of age or you don't," Wenger said after the match. "They all did well today, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock as well had a very strong performance. They are young, just 17 or 18 years old, so that is very promising."

Nelson played 35 times for Arsenal's youth teams last season, scoring seven goals and also featured in the England Under 17 squad.

Watch Lacazette's goal

Arsenal are staying on in Sydney to play 2014 Asian Champions League winners Western Sydney Wanderers at the Olympic stadium on Saturday, with Wenger thrilled by the response of Australian fans to the club's first visit down under in four decades.

"There were 80,000 fans turning up for a game like that and it shows how incredible sport is in Australia and how incredible the support we have here," he said.

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Wenger hailed Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne as the man of the match in Thursday's game after his spectacular saves, but was reminded by reporters that Redmayne had a trial with the London club 12 years ago.

"I don't remember. I must say that it is such a long time that I've been at Arsenal that I don't remember all the trials," Wenger, 67, said. "But if he was with us, we made a mistake [not signing him]!" he laughed.

Redmayne, then 16, trialled at Highbury and nearly had a deal before the north London club opted to sign a 15-year-old Wojciech Szczesny instead.

Arsenal's pre-season fixtures

Thursday Beat Sydney 2-0 in Sydney

Saturday v Western Sydney Wanderers in Sydney

Wednesday v Bayern Munich in Shanghai

July 22 v Chelsea in Beijing

July 29 v Benfica in London

July 30 v Sevilla in London

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