Mikel Arteta has been warned that allowing Eddie Nketiah to leave Arsenal would be “extraordinary” with the striker finally filling the void left by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
An Nketiah-inspired display saw the Gunners beat Leeds United 2-1 at the Emirates on Sunday, moving a step closer to securing a return to the Champions League. The 22-year-old scored a quick-fire brace to put the hosts two goals to the good, before Diego Llorente halved the arrears for 10-man Leeds following Luke Ayling’s dismissal.
But Arteta’s side hung on to move four points clear of Tottenham in fifth and safe in the knowledge that if they beat their North London rivals, they will finish in the top four.
The victory over Leeds was the Gunners’ fourth Premier League win on the spin with Nketiah playing a crucial role in their upturn in form. Having spent much of the season on the bench, the soon-to-be free agent has started the last five league games, scoring four in the process.
But despite that good form his future remains uncertain with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season. And Garth Crooks has warned Arteta that he must not allow him to leave and touted him as the long-term replacement for former captain Aubaemyang, who joined Barcelona in January.
“It looks like Arsenal have finally found a striker to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,” Crooks explained in his BBC Sport column. “I find it extraordinary that a 22-year-old English forward, who finds himself at a club like Arsenal and playing the football of his life, hasn’t had his future nailed down by the club.
“He clearly has all the attributes that make a top player. Even if Arsenal were to buy a renowned goal scorer they would be crazy to let Nketiah go.”
Nketiah joins Alexandre Lacazette and Mohamed Elneny as players with their future in limbo and Arteta has remained coy on whether the England U21 international will in fact sign a new deal. “Eddie is doing what he has done all season,” he explained.
“He has been very consistent with his performance and how little he is giving away. Let him be. Let him enjoy the moment because he completely deserves it and things will happen naturally.”
“I’ve worked hard throughout the season to make sure that I was ready when I get my chance and credit to my team-mates for helping me play and do well. I’m just happy in the team and helping. It’s a great atmosphere throughout the whole season, it’s been excellent. You really feel the connection between the players and the fans, it’s amazing to be involved."
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