In October 2017 I wrote about a young Arsenal lion named Eddie Nketiah who came roaring to prominence with the winning goal in the league cup victory for Arsenal against Norwich.
At the time Arsenal’s front line consisted of Theo Walcott , Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud, who all seemed to be struggling for form in one shape or another, so with the arrival of Eddie Nketiah, many saw his emergence as a natural progression to replace at least one of them in the starting line up.
Flash forward to the current day and Arsenal now have potentially one of the most impressive front lines in European football with Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe. Sadly with such high priced and high profile additions, Eddie Nketiah has slipped down the pecking order at Arsenal for at least the next couple of seasons.
So with first team chances coming at a premium,this season Eddie Nketiah has joined on loan one of the greatest coaches in world football, Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United. With the hope of a better, stronger more complete Eddie Nketiah , Arsenal are optimistic of this loan.
To find out if this optimism is well placed, I spoke to correspondent for All Leeds TV ,Conor McGilligan.
JH – Hi Conor, so Eddie Nketiah , tell us a bit more about his style of play so far under Bielsa , what it seems he’s being asked to do and where he’s excelling?
CM – I am not sure his style of play has been influenced that heavily at this minute in time, Bielsa has evidently just encouraged the youngster to simply get on the end of chances but what I will say is Bielsa has a similar notion with all strikers to run the channels and link up with the furthest forward midfielder, Eddie has already seamlessly adapted to that transition whilst completely enhancing Leeds’ performance as soon as he comes on
JH – Leeds beat a lot of teams to the signing of Eddie , what do you think it was that clinched it for Leeds to convince Arsenal to loan him over other clubs?
CM – It has to be the project, you look at how many famous names Bielsa has developed into world class talent Mendy, Pepe, Herrera, Llorente, Muniain to name a few. He is a world class coach and we have arguably the best academy in the entire country, in terms of producing league ready players. This must have been attractive for Arsenal, Eddie is being treated like any other player, not a superstar, he is being moulded into this squad and you can tell, due to the nurturing of Bielsa and the process he is reaping the benefits which is backed up by his goal ratio.
JH – Eddie Nketiah is yet to start a league game for Leeds , why is that?
CM – As I stated he can’t just walk into an already thriving squad in our division. Like Costa our other marquee signing, Bielsa has to be convinced. He has seen the promise in Eddie and that can only be beneficial for the youngster. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Eddie starting in the next couple of weeks, which is what we all as fans crave!
JH – Going forward with Arsenal strikers the wrong end of 20 do you think Nketiah could be able to fill one of the striker spots left by an Aubameyang or Lacazette?
CM – Yes James I do, some strikers have a natural gift for goals. Abraham is one i pick out for this with his current position at Chelsea, he was wonderful in the championship last season, a youngster who many didn’t think could get up the pecking order at Chelsea, why not? Because he didn’t cost the club 80 million in a transfer window? It is silly and Eddie for me is a better finisher than Abraham. Eddie is ruthless in front of goal, an Ian Wright-esque talent and something that if Arsenal don’t use in the future, many top European clubs will, he is special.
If you enjoyed reading what Conor had to say and would like to read more of his musings on not just Leeds, you can find him on twitter among many other places at @Conor_ALTV