Arsenal manager Unai Emery has said that Eddie Nketiah would have received game time at the Emirates Stadium had he stayed at the club this season.
Nketiah joined Championship club Leeds United on loan from the Gunners on deadline day. The 20-year old striker made 9 appearances under Emery last season, scoring his first Premier League goal in Arsenal’s final match against Burnley.
He featured in all of the Gunners’ pre-season friendlies, scoring three goals that included a brace against Fiorentina and a late winner against Bayern Munich.
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Arsenal boss Emery has said that he was not intending on loaning Nketiah, but felt that the young striker would be a regular at Leeds and that his team needed a good balance heading into the new season.
As quoted by football.london, the Spaniard said: “For example we decided yesterday to let Iwobi leave to Everton. He was very important for us last year. But we need to manage with a good balance with different players. It was the same with Eddie Nketiah, my first decision was not to let him leave. But after he spoke with me and [considering] the possibility of how many matches he is going to play with us, I said to him I could give him a lot of minutes this year but maybe he can improve more playing regularly 90 minutes each Sunday with Leeds.
“Our objective with him is: ‘play and come back here, we want to be with you in the future.’ It’s the same with other young players.”
Last season, Emery often benched Alexandre Lacazette, so it goes without saying that Nketiah would struggle to find game time with the Gunners this season, particularly with Nicolas Pepe fortifying the club’s attack.
However, the England Under-21 international will certainly find a good amount of game time at Leeds United this season. Marcelo Bielsa’s side came third in the Championship last season but lost 4-3 on aggregate to Frank Lampard’s Derby County in the playoffs.
This season, Bielsa will be desperate to lead the club to promotion back to the Premier League after a lengthy spell out of the top division.