Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has waxed lyrical about Eddie Nketiah, telling Football London he is “convinced” that the Gunners youngster can take the team to the “next level”.
The 21-year-old striker, a graduate of the Arsenal academy, is widely rated as one of the brightest players to have emerged from the Gunners ranks in recent years.
Arteta, who succeeded Unai Emery as manager in December, opted against allowing Nketiah to head back out on loan after a stint at Championship high-flyers Leeds United.
The forward has since started Arsenal’s last three Premier League games, scoring against Everton and helping his side to three straight wins before English football was suspended.
The Premier League is now set to return this week, with the Gunners travelling to reigning champions Manchester City for Wednesday night’s late kickoff.
Ahead of Arsenal’s return to action, Arteta has said that he feels Nketiah has now forced his way into the Gunners’ senior squad, and has tipped him to continue playing a big role.
“We treat Eddie as an important part of our squad,” Arteta is quoted by Football London as saying. “We had to make an important decision not to let him go on loan again after the spell he had at Leeds.
“I watched him train and I was very convinced he was the right player for us to move us to the next level, that he can contribute in a big way to the way we want to play. He has been fantastic so far.”
After Emery’s disappointing tenure as Arsenal boss, the future is looking a lot brighter under Arteta, and one particularly bright aspect this season has been the breakthrough of the likes of Nketiah.
With doubts over the futures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, combined with a potentially tight budget in wake of current events, it’ll be more important than ever for Arsenal to develop stars.
“He is a great kid and was a pleasure to work with,” Henry told ESPN in 2017. “He was always on time, listened hard and was a good worker, willing to learn and improve. He will always score goals, even when he’s 60.”