View From The Sphere

Ready Eddie: Nketiah’s promotion to Arsenal first team has come far too late – opinion


The latest pictures of Arsenal’s pre-season preparations suggest that there are a number of new inductees to the Gunners first team.

One of those is Eddie Nketiah, who can be seen sporting a No30 jersey – a change from his No49 shirt in which he scored three times for The Gunners – including in his most recent appearance in the Premier League at Burnley on the final day of last season.

Turning 20 just over a month ago, Nketiah has found opportunities hard to come by since exploding onto the Arsenal scene with a double on his home debut against Norwich City in the League Cup – making just three starts throughout his senior career so far.

And after a loan move to German side Augsburg fell through last winter, the youngster’s progression to top-level football has been halted despite showing plenty of promise with a dazzling scoring record for Arsenal’s youth sides.

On that basis, his promotion is undoubtedly overdue, although his lack of experience to date does little to suggest he can be a viable backup option for Arsenal’s main strikers.

The scarcity of opportunities to come his way are puzzling – especially as Danny Welbeck’s long-term injury wasn’t even enough to take his appearance total into double figures last season.

Given nothing has changed in the meantime, the decision to presumably install him as an alternative to Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suggests that the current gulf between their returns in front of goal are closer than the statistics show.

Had he been sent out on loan at any point throughout the last few seasons for some regular first-team action to add weight to that theory, Nketiah (and his club) may have been able to reap the kind of rewards they can look to witness with Reiss Nelson’s own integration into the senior squad, with the winger spending last year on loan in the Bundesliga to some success.

Having only awarded him nine appearances last term, Emery may come to regret not allowing Nketiah a chance to follow in Nelson’s footsteps, with his achievements in an Arsenal shirt to date and the addition of Gabriel Martinelli to the ranks suggesting that the England Under-20 striker may still be a last resort.

However, with time on his side, Arsenal can still make a success of Nketiah’s career. Loaning him out may give Emery the best opportunity to see what he could offer in the long-term with a prolonged run of games in another team, but failure to do so in the near future could see a promising player’s career fall by the wayside.

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