What can Eddie Nketiah bring to Leeds United?
Background image: Warren Smith.
Arsenal player goes on loan. The player comes back. Goes back on loan. The player comes back again. Arsene Wenger sells them. The Frenchman's era was typical of that process. When a loan had been agreed it was rare that Wenger actually wanted them around. The most worrying aspect was that many of said loaned players were youngsters, who went here, there and everywhere; never to get a look in at Arsenal...
Edward Keddar Nketiah is at a career crossroads. Now 20, the young striker undoubtedly needs/deserves playing time, which is essential in order to allow the striker to flourish and eventually fulfil his potential.
Nketiah announced himself to the Arsenal fan base with a tie-winning brace in the 17/18 EFL Cup against Norwich City - where he scored his first goal within 15 seconds of being on the pitch. The trail from that game was slow but eventually the young forward would get another chance. He'd take it with both hands, scoring against Burnley on the Premier League's final day.
The pre-season allowed Nketiah regular time where he proved to be a real goal threat. If Arsenal didn’t have Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and recent arrival Nicolas Pepe as registered forward players, Nketiah wouldn’t be too far off the pecking order. Nketiah's performances were enough to spark Marcelo Bielsa’s interests, who managing Leeds United, feels the English striker can benefit his side over the course of a long Championship season.
Last year, Leeds' attack centred around Patrick Bamford, Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe. The latter was sold to Anderlecht days before the transfer window’s conclusion - making room for a striker in the Leeds setup.
What does Nketiah offer Leeds? Comparisons have been made between the youngster with both Ian Wright and Jermaine Defoe. He’s earnt such collations due to his speed coupled with a dedication to shoot. Not every 20-year-old scores against Bayern Munich, right? The forward backs his own ability, thus often lets the ball fly. This fresh zeal is what drives a bidding Championship team forward. It’s a long-drawn-out season, where morale, fatigue, desire and form can change over the course of a week where you often play three games.
If he shows the ability that Arsenal fans have seen glimpses of, on a regular basis in the Championship, there’s no reason why Nketiah can’t help Leeds considerably in their quest for top-flight football. His enthusiasm and speed will harness his own precision over time, allowing him to produce goals with increasing regularity.
In turn, Leeds offers the player various outlets for development. The Elland Road outfit is more than just an ordinary club. Supporters are quick to pass judgement but loving in their admiration. Should Nketiah show his commitment to the Mighty Whites, he’ll quickly get the fans onside which can be a real asset.
His Leeds United debut against Salford City in the League Cup showcased his finest attributes. Nketiah unlocked the League Two side’s defence for the games opening goal before half-time. He gave his all for the 78-minutes he was on the pitch, tormenting the backline with his blistering pace and willingness to work.
In a post-match interview, Nketiah praised his teammates for the performance, especially Helder Costa, who provided the assist for the Arsenal loanee player’s goal – talking as well as he plays despite only being with the club for a short time.
Leeds now have five games before September arrives - all coming in the space of two weeks. Nketiah has already proved his commitment to the club plus his ability in a match. This homestay at Elland Road could be just the excursion he needs to catapult his career forward...