This morning Arsenal are linked with Donyell Malen following his fantastic start to the season in Holland.
The 20-year-old Dutch International has been in blistering form with 9 goals already this season in all competition. PSV Eidenhoven have reportedly put a £50m price tag on him following interest for Liverpool.
His bright start to the season and headline grabbing price tag has led to the usual over reaction from Arsenal fans.
“Why did we let him go?” They have cried. “Another mistake by Wenger” they moaned.
Malen left Arsenal back in 2017. Joining PSV for less than £1million.
The then 18-year-old engineered a move out of the club under the guidance of his agent – Mino Raiola.
Many Arsenal fans who saw him play were disappointed that he left, as he was clearly a talent. But they also understood the situation.
Here was a player who had come to Arsenal at 16-years-old from Ajax. Within 2 years of being at the club refused to sign a new contract and decided to move back to his native Holland to find 1st team football.
It actually took him a season to find that 1sr team football as he spent a year at Jong PSV – the reserve team of PSV Eidenhoven.
He was a talent within Arsenal’s youth team, but he was by no means the brightest star.
Capable of playing across the front 3, Malen was in direct competition with the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Stephy Mavididi.
Malen often found himself playing 2nd fiddle to those 3 players. Usually only playing within his age group when they moved up a group or were involved in the senior team.
Only Mavididi – who has since joined Juventus – was older than Malen.
Back in 2017, Malen was down the pecking order for the 1st team action he demanded.
2016/17 none of Nelson, Mavididi or Nketiah got any senior game time as Chris Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom were the youngsters given the chances in the cup games.
So Arsenal had a talented young player; who was not more talented than players the same age. Whilst the club did not want him to leave; they also did not stand in his way.
Malen has had a good start to his season. 5 goals in 1 games against Vitesse. Scoring for his country. It has led to many saying Arsenal made a mistake with him.
But then remember he is playing in Holland. Take the top 2 or 3 out of the Dutch league and is what’s left much better than the Championship? Or even League 1?
Last season Nelson – who is younger than Malen remember – had a good season on loan in the Bundesliga. What would he have done if he was on loan in the Dutch league? 20+ goals?
And then we have Nketiah – who is younger than Malen remember. He is currently on loan to Leeds who are topping the Championship.
Nketiah is at 4 goals in 6 games in all competitions. What would behave achieved if he was in Holland?
Mason Mount spent a season in Holland. He scored 14 goals in 39 games.
The next season Chelsea decided to continue his development by sending him on loan to the Championship. They clearly saw England’s 2nd division as being more competitive than Holland’s top.
Mount scored 11 in 44 for Derby last season. Proof that the Championship is the tougher league.
So we shouldn’t be getting our knickers in a twist of Malen scoring 5 goals against Vitesse. For every Luis Suarez that comes out of the league, you get 2017/18 top scorer Alizera Jahanbakhsh who failed to score a league goal for Brighton in 2018/19.
Last season the joint top scorers in Holland were Luuk de Jong (0 goals in 12 games for Newcastle) and Dusan Tadic (ex-Southampton). Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar were joint 6th top scorers with 16 goals each.
We should be supporting the likes of Nketiah and Nelson; rather than pining for Malen.
Both Nketiah and Nelson are home grown lads who want to be at the club. They want to pull on the red and white of Arsenal.
Instead of supporting these lads, I see fans criticising them.
Following the victory over Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday; Nelson came in for a lot of criticism. “Not good enough”, “Saka is better”, “Emery doesn’t fancy him”. Nelson didn’t even play!
Malen may well become a world beater. He also may well end up at someone like Norwich bouncing between the Premier League and Championship.
We as fans have a habit of criticising our own whilst looking envious at others.
The likes of Nelson and Nketiah, Saka, Willock and Smith Rowe should be getting the support they deserve.
I would rather us continue developing those that we have rather than demand the club sign a player who has already left us once.
Back the boys at the club.