Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he has more faith in Eddie Nketiah ‘every single day’, with the striker ‘ready’ to replace Gabriel Jesus over the coming months.
Jesus played twice for Brazil at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But in his second appearance, which came against Cameroon in the group stage, he picked up a knee injury. And the forward has since had to have surgery on the problem, ruling him out until around March.
Various reports have claimed Arsenal are willing to spend money in the January transfer window to bring in a replacement. There have been transfer links with Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix and Juventus goalscorer Dusan Vlahovic.
According to journalist Duncan Castles, Felix can be signed on loan from Atleti for just £8million. That is despite him costing the Spanish club £113m three years ago.
There was an update on Vlahovic’s future on December 21. As per Italian source Corriere dello Sport, Vlahovic’s agent ‘doesn’t rule anything out’ when it comes to a potential transfer. So while Juve want to keep him, the star and his representative could have different ideas.
Despite the rumours surrounding Felix and Vlahovic, Arteta has hinted Arsenal could utilise academy graduate Nketiah up front until Jesus is back fit.
“(I have) more faith in him (Nketiah) every single day. We see every day what he brings to the team, what he is as a human being and the way he is developing as a player,” Arteta declared (via the Daily Mail).
“We got a great response last year when we needed him. He is ready. That is why he signed his contract. He is a key player in our squad.”
Eddie Nketiah set for chance, but Arsenal still want signings
However, it is fair to say Arteta has been slightly confusing when it comes to the potential striker signing. He also had this to say: “We want to sign players early in January as we did last summer. What we cannot afford is get a player here that is not for us.
“We don’t need a body, we jusr need players that make the team better. We are aligned with Edu and the board.”
By the sounds of it, Nketiah will start the next few matches up front. But once Arsenal find a better short-term replacement for Jesus, they will bring him in. And this will leave Nketiah on the bench once again.
Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson would like to see an experienced striker play for Arsenal, rather than Nketiah. In a recent interview with the Daily Star, Merson said: “It’s a massive worry that they’re now relying on out-of-form Eddie Nketiah.
“They could go eight points clear if they beat West Ham before Manchester City play a game and you still wouldn’t fancy them to win the title without Gabriel Jesus.
“It’s hard because even though he doesn’t score an awful lot of goals, he is still so effective. If he’s out for three months, I’d be shocked if they got in the top four. I just don’t see where the goals come from.
“Without being horrible, what Premier League team does Eddie Nketiah get in? Wolves are bottom for instance, they’re desperate for a goal and they wouldn’t go and get him.
“For me, it’s really worrying. This is no disrespect to Nketiah or the other players but Jesus gels everything together. Nketiah might deliver for three games but I just don’t see him doing it for 10 or more matches.”