'Nelson can do whatever he wants' - Arteta backs Arsenal starlet to shine but backs away from Sterling comparisons

Mikel Arteta says there is no limit to the potential of Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson, having coached him from an early age.

Following Arteta’s move from Manchester City, comparisons have been drawn between Nelson and Raheem Sterling – with hopes that the Spaniard can help coax the best out of the young Gunner as he did with the England star.

The Arsenal boss had no desire to draw such parallels. Nevertheless, he is excited about the 20-year-old’s potential.

“I wouldn't like to compare [him to Sterling], but what I will say is that Reiss has the potential to do whatever he wants,” Arteta told reporters.

“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.

“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.”

After making his Arsenal debut at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, Nelson initially struggled to break into the matchday squad.

Reiss Nelson, Arsenal celebrate vs Leeds

A productive loan spell in the Bundesliga helped him adapt to the senior game. After seven goals in 23 league games for Hoffenheim last season, he has returned to make 14 appearances for the Gunners in the current campaign, scoring in both domestic cups.

“He was that good when he was young that everything was too easy for him,” Arteta said.

“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.

“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, want we want from him and I trust him.”

Nelson will be hoping to feature as Arsenal host Sheffield United on Saturday. The Blades start the weekend in sixth place, four points ahead of Arteta's side.