I’m ready to claim first-team shirt – Arsenal’s youngster Nketiah

EDDIE Nketiah, the highly-rated Arsenal prospect, has declared himself ready to play regular first-team football after becoming the breakout star of the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.

Nketiah, one of the most exciting products of the Arsenal academy, has scored three goals in two games against Bayern Munich and Fiorentina in the past week.

The 20-year-old has options to leave on loan this summer but he has now been challenged by head coach Unai Emery to stay in north London and provide a natural goalscoring option for the first team.

Nketiah’s short-term future is a delicate issue for Arsenal. The club do not wish to hamper his development by providing him with limited first-team action, but are reluctant to allow him to leave on loan due to a lack of striking cover for first-choice attackers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Nketiah was due to join Augsburg on loan in January but was barred from leaving north London following an injury to Danny Welbeck. Emery said Arsenal have not made efforts to replace Welbeck, who left the club this summer, because they would rather give Nketiah more opportunities in the senior squad.

“I feel like I have been improving until being at a stage now when I am ready to play regularly,” Nketiah said. “I am trying to show in pre-season that I have developed and I am ready to show what I can do. I am ready to start playing regularly.”

Nketiah’s future is likely to be decided after the pre-season tour of the US, which continues with a match against Real Madrid in midweek.

“There was talk of [a loan move in January] and it was close to happening but the club decided that I should stay and I tried to finish the season as strongly as possible,” he said. “We’ll see what happens in the future but I am just enjoying the tour and in the future decisions will be made.

“After the tour, it’s something that I will look at with my family and speak to the manager and see what is best for me.”

Nketiah has grown up idolising former Arsenal strikers Ian Wright and Thierry Henry and said both have contributed to his development as a forward.

“They are probably two of my favourites,” said Nketiah, who has bulked up since scoring two goals on his Arsenal debut in the League Cup against Norwich City in 2017.  – The Telegraph

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