Mikel Arteta was quizzed on whether Eddie Nketiah is an Arsenal talent that may need to be ‘moved on’ this summer ahead of the tie against Burnley owing to the ace’s lack of action this season.
The journalist stressed that Nketiah, a fringe first-teamer, stayed put in the January transfer window, whilst fellow academy graduates Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles left for more minutes on loan.
Nketiah has not featured at all in any of the Gunners’ last seven matches across all competitions, with the 21-year-old being left out of the matchday squad for the last five Premier League encounters.
Arteta admitted that one of his ‘hardest decisions’ is leaving someone like Nketiah out of the squad. The boss added that it ‘hurts’ shunning the talent because of the manner in which he ‘behaves’ and ‘trains’
The Spaniard called on Nketiah to be ‘patient’, though Arteta did state that if the England Under-21s star does not see the minutes he ‘deserves’, it will be his ‘fault’ and no one else’s.
“Well, when we’re talking about management, this is one of the hardest decisions for me, to leave someone like Eddie out of the squad, but at the moment everybody has been fit and we have so many options upfront.”
“But it hurts as well because of how Eddie behaves, how he trains every day and because he’s a player from our academy, but he will have his chance.”
“He needs to be patient, he’s showing no signs of lacking attitude or anything like that, it’s the complete opposite. He’s a joy to work with and he deserves minutes and if he doesn’t get it, it’s just my fault.”
The question on Nketiah comes just a day after the centre-forward was named as a potential target for West Ham, who are looking to bolster their short-staffed striker ranks this summer, per the Star.
Nketiah has started 13 of his 25 matches across all competitions this season, with almost half of those starts coming in the Europa League Group Stages.
The youngster has still returned a handy contribution of five goals and an assist with his limited action so far this season, though it doesn’t look like he’ll have any real chances anytime soon with both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vying for the lone starting centre-forward spot.