Unai Emery sets challenge for Eddie Nketiah after impressive pre-season
Unai Emery has challenged Eddie Nketiah to nail down a place in Arsenal’s starting XI after his impressive performances for the club in pre-season.
Nketiah, 20, who made nine appearances for Arsenal last term, scored a brace in the side’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina on Saturday night to make it three goals from his last two matches.
While Bundesliga outfit Augsburg looked set to take Nketiah on loan last January, the Gunners decided it was best for the young striker to continue training with Emery’s first-team.
Nketiah is now attracting interest from Championship club Bristol City this summer, but Emery is convinced the England Under-21 international is ready to become a regular at the Emirates.
‘Last year in December we were thinking to loan him to Germany,’ Emery said following Arsenal’s win over Fiorentina at the International Champions Cup in Charlotte, North Carolina.
‘We decided he stays with us to train and progress with us. We started this pre-season with the same idea as we finished last year – stay with us.
‘My idea is if you progress like we are seeing from you, you can have a chance here for us.
‘I spoke with him and with the club. He has started with a doubt if it is better for him to stay here with us or leave to play more minutes with another team. But we have examples last year of some players who wanted away and didn’t play all we wanted.
‘I said to him first be focused here. If you earn the right to be with us it’s because I can promise you that you are going to have minutes but in those minutes you need to learn. And in the pre-season at the moment he’s playing like we want.
‘Each player has the opportunity to show this capacity and above all first is a very good attitude.
‘After this is the young players need experience and they need to take minutes and to have confidence playing with us.’
Emery claimed that Arsenal have resisted the urge splash the cash on big-name players for the benefit of youngsters like Nketiah.
‘Last season in small moments when we could give him chances to be on the pitch he did very well. I can confirm his progress and we want this progress with every player,’ Emery added.
‘The young energy is very important, especially Eddie Nketiah was playing and progressing very well. The young players who are here, this is the moment for them to show how we can use them to help us in the season.
‘Last year we had [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Alexandre] Lacazette and Danny Welbeck. They had space to play. We didn’t sign another striker at the moment because we want to give the chances to Nketiah.
‘But every young player, if they deserve to be here we are going to help them.’
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