Only Emile Smith Rowe and the exiled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have scored more Arsenal goals than Eddie Nketiah this season.
Nketiah upped his tally to five – all of which have come in the EFL Cup – by scoring a hat-trick in Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over Sunderland.
His first of the night was a scrappy finish bundled in off his thigh, but he capped a dominant display against League One opposition with a glorious backheeled finish to rubber-stamp Arsenal’s spot in the semi-finals of his favourite competition.
Nketiah has been on Arsenal’s books since 2015 when he joined their youth ranks from London rivals Chelsea.
But his time at the Emirates Stadium could be coming to an end at the end of the season.
Earlier this month it was reported by The Sun that the 22-year-old had rejected Arsenal’s latest contract offer and was set to leave on a free transfer next summer in search of regular first-team football.
And Nketiah appeared to confirm in his post-match interview on Tuesday that he has indeed snubbed a new deal because he wants to play more often.
“I am just eager to play football. That is my main ambition.” https://t.co/39FBGkOJgc
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) December 21, 2021
Nketiah has been Arsenal’s main man in the EFL Cup this season, netting in their wins over Wimbledon and Leeds as well as his hat-trick against Sunderland.
Whether he will develop into a player of Premier League class remains to be seen, but Arsenal must be disappointed at the prospect of losing him for no fee after letting his contract run down.
In the aftermath of Nketiah’s first Arsenal hat-trick, many Gunners fans took to Twitter to bemoan the situation.
One concerned Gooner wrote: “No way Eddie Nketiah is going for free”.
Another added: “Someone needs to have a heart to heart with him and work out his concerns.”
No way Eddie Nketiah is going for free
— Just Donald (@Tru_StorySA) December 21, 2021
— It’s Tumelo (@TuhMeyLo) December 21, 2021
Aubameyang, Lacazette, Nketiah & Balogun is our striker options.
Letting England best poacher go for free is criminal
— Peggz ? (@PeggzAFC) December 21, 2021
Nketiah leaving on a free ???
— . (@EccentricFella) December 21, 2021
Could have sold Nketiah for 30m but now well lose him for free. This club is still bad at offloading players
— Asad (@GoatZarate) December 21, 2021
How are we letting Nketiah go on a free!???!!?!?
— lemonade papi (@ec_2991) December 21, 2021
We can’t let this guy leave on a free surely? Eddie Nketiah has been fantastic!
— Toby Elgar (@tobyelgar) December 21, 2021
Nketiah is a £25m player, we cannot let him go for free
— AFC Jason?? (@AFCJas0n) December 21, 2021
The fact that Nketiah is likely to leave for free is a bit painful
— Calum (@CalArsenal) December 21, 2021