Bayer Leverkusen want to ramp up their pursuit of Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah in the next week, a report has claimed.
The 22-year-old’s future will prove to be one of the main stories of the January transfer window for the Gunners. While he supposedly wants to move on to get more game time, he could yet earn a prominent role at Arsenal.
Indeed, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains frozen out. As such, Nketiah has moved up the pecking order but is still behind Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has insisted that he wants the England Under-21 international to stay. If he did stay, he would have to sign a new contract, with his current terms expiring in the summer.
As a result of his contractual situation, though, Nketiah is able to talk to overseas clubs and arrange a summer transfer.
According to The Sun on Sunday, Bundesliga club Leverkusen are the first European club to register serious interest. They had links with a move for Nketiah in the summer.
This time around, though, they will step up their pursuit and hope to get a deal sorted by the end of next week.
Indeed, the newspaper says that Leverkusen may push the striker to sign up this week by offering a ‘lucrative’ contract.
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Nketiah and his representatives will therefore reportedly choose the German club. That would mean Crystal Palace, who would not be able to compete with Leverkusen, will drop out of the race.
But the striker’s future would still remain unclear. The Sun says that the prospect of a key role in the Premier League may entice Nketiah to move to Palace.
He could also choose to stay at Arsenal based on Aubameyang’s future. Further reports have claimed that the striker is a target for Newcastle, in another twist.
Alexandre Lacazette could also leave Arsenal as he is, like Nketiah, into the final six months of his deal.
Arsenal told Nketiah not good enough
Meanwhile, one pundit has claimed that he does not think Nketiah is good enough to be Arsenal’s main striker.
Paddy Kenny said after the striker’s Carabao Cup hat-trick against Sunderland: “It’s a difficult one, for me.
“No disrespect to Sunderland but they are a League One side. It was a game he was expected to do well in. Getting a hat-trick at home against anyone is an achievement, it’s still impressive.
“Can he do it week in week out in the Premier League? I don’t think so. If Arsenal are to get rid of Aubameyang they need to bring in an experienced operator.
“Someone who has scored goals in the Premier League before. No disrespect to Nketiah but I’m not sure he is that guy.”
Arsenal return to action on Thursday when facing Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, a game Nketiah could start.