The news that nearly broke the Arsenal fan base when it was revealed that the Gunners were closing on a deal to renew Eddie Nketiah’s contract. Despite it appearing very likely for months that he would move on, he looks now destined to stay.
To achieve this, however, Arsenal are paying. Big time. Reports suggest that Nketiah would earn £100,000-per-week with a £5million bonus paid out across the five-year contract.
Effectively, were Nketiah to complete the deal, Arsenal would have committed £31million to the striker including bonus and wages should the report be accurate – and Nketiah maximise his bonuses. This is quite the financial investment considering Nketiah, until the last nine games, has never nailed down a regular spot in the Arsenal team.
But – and there is quite the but – this could prove to be quite the shrewd bit of business. Hear me out.
The numbers that Nketiah was recording in his final eight starts of the season were impressive. Five goals, the same as Harry Kane in his last eight starts – although two were penalties, with the Chelsea performance kicking it all off.
Nketiah told the Beautiful Game Podcast: “There have been offers of a new contract but at the moment my aim is to play football and play regularly. That’s my ambition and that’s what I hope to do. But at the same time I’m at Arsenal; I love Arsenal.
“I’m just trying to focus on the season until May and make sure I finish that in a good way and then sit down and see what I think is the best opportunity to allow me to take those steps and develop.
“I feel like I’m at the stage where I’ve signed a contract for five years when I was 18 and in that five years, how many starts have I had here? I went on loan for six months and been here for the rest. And I have probably started about 30 games maybe in all competitions.
“I see players my age that I’ve played with and they kick on and it’s like: ‘What’s the difference between someone I was playing with at England Under-21s?'”
However, then he began to get consistent starts, and then he got goals. His addition to the side gave Arsenal such a boost, it was ultimately not enough to get Champions League football, but significantly closer than many thought they would get. Especially with the run of games against Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham. It seems as though he knew what he was talking about.
There is a phrase I like to call the ‘new toy syndrome’. It is something that Arsenal fans, including myself, suffer from. A desire to see a new player come in convinced that they are the solution to all our problems.
Some certainly are. Takehiro Tomiyasu, Thomas Partey, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Magalhaes have been fantastic.
For this striker position, had Arsenal say signed a striker in January that came in for the final eight games of the season and scored five goals, we would be overjoyed. However, because it is Nketiah, this same luxury point of view is not afforded. Just looking at how his numbers compare to other strikers across the top five leagues is impressive viewing.
Of course, there is a risk. It is a lot of money and should Arsenal not add at least two forwards this summer, I will be among the first to question the decisions come September. But I am willing to give Nketiah a chance; I think he’s earned it. Now he has to earn that money.
That said, if Nketiah ultimately fails and Arsenal become laboured with an underperforming striker on the level of wage reported, then the club and Mikel Arteta have a problem. Not just in the sense that moving him on would be difficult, but the trust in the decision-making might quickly evaporate.