Mikel Arteta explains why Eddie Nketiah will not leave Arsenal in the January transfer window
Mikel Arteta has admitted Arsenal’s shortage of attacking options affected the decision to keep Eddie Nketiah.
The 20-year-old was reported to be in discussions with his ‘final three’ potential loan clubs – Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday – but Championship trio all missed out.
Following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s red card at Crystal Palace, Arteta insisted Nketiah would still be loaned. Since then, however, Reiss Nelson has been added to the injury list which could have impacted the decision.
“The circumstances changed as well with our team with the injuries with suspensions,” Arteta said.
“We are very short of numbers at the moment and we’ve got a player that has a lot of quality and can can help us.”
Back at the club for two weeks, Nketiah began training with the first team again on January 9 and what the Spaniard saw in these sessions was also reported to be a deciding factor in the decision to keep the striker at the club.
Still having the possibility to challenge for both the FA Cup and Europa League, even if he isn’t able to force his way into the Premier League starting XI, Nketiah will have opportunities to play.
Coming off the bench against Sheffield United, he was making his first appearance since New Year’s Day when he was substituted at half time during Leeds United’s 1-1 draw with West Brom.
In his 17 minutes back at the Emirates, the 20-year-old gave yet another good account of himself. On for Alexandre Lacazette who worked tirelessly at the top of the pitch, Nketiah injected more urgency into Arsenal attacks.
Darting into the wide channels to pick up the ball, he tried to find teammates as well as the back of the net but the fact he hadn’t played in over two weeks showed when it came to the final execution.
Even though Nketiah wasn’t able to add to the Gunners’ lead late on, Arteta was pleased with his contribution in place of Lacazette.
“I was very impressed with him. Everything I’ve seen in training I really liked and I think he’s grown a lot in terms of his loan and the environment is was working in,” he said when addressing the youngster’s performance .
“That’s what the plan was. He was he was ready to make an impact we needed that energy.
“I think the team was starting to feel a bit lacking that and I made a decision to play him.”