Patrick Vieira is firming up his plans to raid Arsenal for striker Eddie Nketiah, according to a report – but he will have to choose between him and someone he has coached before.
Vieira was recently appointed as the new manager of Crystal Palace, replacing Roy Hodgson. It will be the former Arsenal midfielder’s first taste of Premier League management. The task will not be easy due to the high turnover of players in the Palace squad. But to help replenish the ranks, Vieira could turn to the club he used to play for.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed that Palace are in the hunt for the signing of Nketiah. Also admiring the striker are fellow London outfit West Ham, Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen and an anonymous Premier League side.
Now, The Sun have taken the story further by claiming that Vieira “would love” to sign Nketiah. His relationship with Arsenal from his playing days could help, as the Gunners are open to a transfer anyway.
The all-time leading England under-21s scorer is out of contract in 2022. Therefore, Arsenal may have to sell this summer or lose him for free next year.
Receiving a transfer fee would be better, so they have set an asking price of £20m. It seems somewhat on the steep side given his contractual situation and relative lack of action for Arsenal, but they would still want to cash in on his potential.
At the age of 22, it is now essential for Nketiah to start building up his gametime. Therefore, a move to Selhurst Park may be beneficial for all concerned.
Arsenal already have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli above him in the pecking order. What’s more, they recently extended the contract of Folarin Balogun, who may be given more of a platform.
Therefore, Nketiah is likely to leave this summer, but there may still be an Arsenal connection to his next move thanks to Vieira.
Palace eye Dolberg as Nketiah alternative
However, Nketiah is not the only name on Palace’s shortlist as they look for a new striker. The same report claims Nice and Denmark forward Kasper Dolberg is also under consideration.
One year older than Nketiah, he has much more experience at the top level. He was a regular for Ajax between 2016 and 2019 and already has more than 50 appearances to his name for Nice since joining them from the Dutch club.
Dolberg spearheaded Denmark’s attack as they reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020. Coming into the side in the knockout stages, he scored three goals before England eliminated his country.
Now, he could end up playing club football on the same shores where he tasted defeat in the Euros. Vieira was in charge of Nice when they signed him from Ajax and he could look to be reunited with their number nine.
The French club have put Dolberg on the transfer list after he only managed six goals last season. His form was better when Vieira was in charge, so he could get back on track with a fresh link up.
However, the catch is that he – perhaps unsurprisingly – costs more than Nketiah. Nice’s asking price is £25m, which leaves Palace with a dilemma. They can only afford to take one of the strikers, so Vieira and sporting director Dougie Freedman have a decision to make.