Eddie Nketiah will soon sign a new long-term contract with Arsenal. News of the new deal came as a bit of a shock for many fans and pundits around the world. After all, the 23-year-old striker seemed almost certain to depart The Emirates following his contract expiration this month. Nketiah himself even suggested he could move on from the Gunners just a few months ago.
After Eddie Nketiah scored a hat trick in the Carabao Cup against Sunderland in December, the English youth international talked to SkySports. Nketiah proclaimed he needed more playing time.
“I’m desperate to play football, every player wants to play. All I can do is keep working hard. It will sort itself out, hopefully I get opportunities. I’m eager to play football, I’m here under contract. As long as I play for Arsenal I will give it my all. If the manager needs me I will be ready to help the team.”
Mikel Arteta afforded Nketiah more opportunities down the stretch in the Premier League. This worked well for Nketiah’s desires and those of Arsenal. Nketiah scored five goals in the final eight matches during Premier League play. This vote of confidence undoubtedly helped persuade Nketiah to stay in north London.
Risks of the new Eddie Nketiah contract
Retaining his young striker will surely make Arteta happy. However, the impending move remains a gamble for both sides. Nketiah performed well down the stretch for Arsenal. Yet, Arsenal fans await a major impact from the striker over the duration of a season. Over 59 Premier League matches with Arsenal, Nketiah has just 10 total goals. Clearly, the youngster is not exactly a prolific scorer.
Also, the Gunners supposedly want to keep Nketiah as a second option in attack moving forward. Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is clearly an Arsenal target. If that transfer goes through, the Brazilian likely takes over the role of leading the Arsenal line.
Nevertheless, Nketiah has actually been better for the Gunners in recent years as a starter in Arteta’s XI. The center forward has 14 goals in 26 total starts in all competitions since the start of the 2020/21 campaign. In comparison, he netted four goals in 29 total substitute appearances during the same timeframe. In fact, all 10 of his goals during last season came when he started the match up front.
On the player’s side of things, it is a bit surprising that Nketiah would be willing to potentially sit behind another striker. His comments following the Sunderland hat trick represent his frustration over playing time. However, Arsenal’s qualification to the Europa League should provide ample opportunities in different competitions in the upcoming season.
Means of the deal
Arsenal is reportedly giving Nketiah a fresh £100,000-per-week long-term deal. Although this would mean that his wages would be doubled compared to his last contract, it wouldn’t necessarily break the bank or be any hindrance to any future player contracts. Even if the Gunners can pry Jesus from Manchester City, the club would potentially be paying Nketiah and Jesus a fraction of what they were paying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in recent seasons.
The (likely) manageable wages aside, both the club and Nketiah hope this gamble will pay off in a big way going forward. Just turning 23, the striker still has plenty of room to grow as a player.
If he works, he could become a vital piece to the puzzle at a team that he quite clearly loves.
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