Tag Archives: eddie nketiah

Has Gabriel Martinelli ended Eddie Nketiah’s career at Arsenal

When Arsenal agreed the deal to take then 17-year-old Gabriel Martinelli, I was concerned that it would send a negative message it would send to the academy.

The worry was that we had a lot of good young attacking talent in our academy and U23s. From Eddie Nketiah, Tyreece John-Jules, Folarin Balogun to Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka on the wings.

At the time I felt that if Martinelli was being signed to go into the academy squad rather than the 1st team squad, it would be a blow for talented teenagers who had been at the club since primary school days.

My opinion was simple. If Martinelli was to join, it would be to be in and around the 1st team. It was only worthwhile signing him if he was already better than every single one of those aforementioned players.

A decision was made in the summer to send Nketiah on loan.

At 20-years-old, he had spent a few years already playing U23 football and it was clearly a level below him. Even at international youth level, he looks too good for his age group.

The problem he faced was that at Arsenal he had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him. Two world class strikers.

Nketiah needed game time and with Arsenal playing 1 up top, that would have been restrictive – even in the League Cup and Europa League where Unai Emery would have gone with whichever one of his two top strikers was playing second fiddle to the other.

So Nketiah was too good for age group football, yet not quite good enough to get regular minutes in Arsenal’s first team. A loan deal made complete sense.

Off to Leeds United Nketiah went where he has been in good form; already scoring 4 goals this season. However he has yet to make a league start for 2nd in the table for Leeds.

The original plan would have been that Nketiah’s loan deal would be his chance to shine.

A good season at Leeds and he would return to the club a man. 21-years-old and ready to push Aubameyang and Lacazzete. Position himself as a genuine option when 30-year-old Aubameyang’s legs go and he leaves for China or America (it will happen within 2 seasons).

But what has happened whilst he Nketiah has been on loan is he has had to watch on as Arsenal’s new young Brazilian has quickly established himself as a fans favourite.

The situation at Arsenal changed quickly.

An injury to Lacazette left Emery with just the one senior striker. This resulted in him having to look at which teenager would lead the line in the Europa League and League Cup.

Aubameyang started the 1st Europa League game against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Martinelli on the bench. But the young Brazilian was given his chance against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup – scoring twice.

That performance was enough to convince Emery that it was not worth risking Aubameyang in Europe. That Martinelli would be his man for mid-week.

Against Standard Liege Martinelli doubled his goal tally for Arsenal to 4 for the season, adding an exquisite assist in the process. He had arrived.

At this point it is important to point out the importance of not over hyping him.

I have seen some already labelling him the next Carlos Tevez. But he is 18-years-old with two good performances against Nottingham Forest and Standard Leige. We should not be putting him in the starting line-up for Premier League teams yet.

With the performances of Martinelli, it is easy to forget that he is only just 18-years-old. It is that which makes him so exciting.

Time is on his side. There is no need to rush he progression. He will still be a teenager in 2021!

What has impressed about Martinelli the most is his all-round game.

His has shown so far that he can score poacher’s goals, headers and wonder strikes. He has a high work rate, putting pressure on defenders, and is capable of getting involved in the build up play. He could become a complete striker.

Meanwhile Nketiah is a little bit more of a simple striker. He is a finisher, like Ian Wright. He will score goals, a lot of goals. But he will not contribute much else to the team. In modern football, can you really afford to have a striker who is only a goal scorer? Not sure.

The problem Nketiah now faces is that Martinelli is likely to get 6-10 starts this season in the Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup.

If Martinelli continues his current level of performance, and Nketiah does not go and bang in 20+ Championship goals, the Englishman will return to North London behind in the pecking order.

That would leave a 21-year-old Nketiah as 4th choice striker at Arsenal – a team that play one up top. And one of the players ahead of him is 2 years younger, the other 2 will be world class performers.

So role forward 12 months, Aubameyang and Lacazette are combining in Arsenal’s 1st XI and Martinelli is on the bench in the Premier League, starting in the lesser competitions. Where does that leave Nketiah?

At 21-years-old he could still play for the U23 team. But following a season on loan to a top Championship side, that will be a step back.

Another loan deal could be an option, but if at 21 he is not yet ready, and with a (then) 19-year-old ahead of him, a loan deal will be very different to this season. It will not be a case of “you are a young player, go out on loan, perform and next season you will be part of 1st team plans” as 2021/22 Martinelli will still be ahead of him. And just 20.

The other problem Nketiah faces is those other players coming up from behind.

Arsenal have a pair of 18-year-old strikers in Tyreece John-Jules and Folarian Balogun who are next on the Hale End production line.

Next summer Edu will have to decide whether it is worthwhile continuing to develop a Nketiah, or start concentrating on those who are younger.

In the same way arsenal’s focus went from Benik Afobe to Chuba Akpom, then from Akpom to eddie Nketiah; next summer might become a time where a decision is made to let Nketiah go and introduce John-Jules and Balogun to 1st team training, pre-season tours and cup appearances.

Arsenal could well decide to cash in on Nketiah,

Liverpool have done well recently moving on the likes of Dominic Solanke, Kevin Stewart, Jerome Sinclair and Jordon Ibe. Those 4 raised nearly £46million after the Champions League winners decided that they did not have the quality for the highest level.

If Arsenal did decide to sell Nketiah, there would be plenty of Premier League interest.

Would it be unrealistic for Arsenal to command a fee northwards of £20million for him? I would imagine if Leeds did get promoted, they would be very interested in making his loan deal permanent.

So bids for £20m+ for Nketiah come in. He is 4th choice striker and we have teenagers chomping at the bit to get ahead of him. The time might be up for the youngster.

Keenos

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Stop pining for those that left – Support those that stayed

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.

Keenos

Eddie scores again

With 13 minutes to go and the score at 0-0, Leeds manger Marcelo Bielsa beckoned over his young striker on loan from Arsenal.

“Go win us the match Eddie” he probably said. 3 minutes later he did that scoring the only goal against Brentford to send Leeds top of the league.

That made it 2 from 2 for the England U21 international, who scored on his debut against Salford City in the EFL Cup.

This loan move to Leeds is going to be important for his development.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him, Nketiah would not have seen much game time at The Arsenal had he stayed this year.

His only starts would have been in the EFL Cup and Europa League. He would not have even been guaranteed a place on the bench in Premier League games.

Arsenal reportedly made clubs looking to loan Nketiah do a presentation to the player and club. A lesson learnt following Serge Gnabry’s disastrous move to WBA a few years ago.

At Leeds, Nketiah has found himself behind Patrick Bamford.

Whilst this might be frustrating for Arsenal fans, and Nketiah himself, it will be good for him to have to battle to get into the 1st team.

Bamford scored a brace against Wigan at the weekend and, with 3 goals in 4 league games this season, deserves to be starting ahead of Nketiah.

Competing for a 1st team spot will push Nketiah even more, and I am confident sooner rather than later the 20-year-old will be starting regularly for Leeds.

The Championship is a tough league. From day one you are pretty much playing twice a week. Add in the cups and that is over 50 games a season.

Top end Premier League clubs regularly play 50 games a season, but they have the squads to cope. Down in the Championship sides have to continually shuffle the pack; and that leads to game time.

Nketiah will end up with 30+ starts for Leeds this season across all competition, and will play over 40 games. It would not be a surprise to see him get close to 30 goals in all competitions.

That is important development game time that he would not have got at Arsenal.

Nketiah will return to the club in a year fitter, stronger and hungrier, ready to compete.

Taking into account the age of Aubameyang and Lacazette, he has a future at Arsenal.

Keenos