Arsenal have announced that Eddie Nketiah has signed a new five-year contract with the club and has taken on the iconic number 14 shirt in the wake of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure – the number most synonymous with club legend, Thierry Henry. It was thought that Nketiah, who has been with Arsenal since the age of 16, would leave for free this summer, with West Ham and Crystal Palace both rumoured to be interested in the player. Nketiah’s salary is rumoured to be around £100,000-a-week and includes a £5m signing-on bonus.
In fact, Nketiah came very close to leaving the club last summer, with a reported move to Crystal Palace thought to be close after Arsenal agreed a £12m fee with the south London club, however, a breakdown in negotiations over personal terms ended the prospect.
Had Nketiah actually left the club this summer, had he joined another English side, Arsenal would have been able to argue a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding financial compensation for the player as he is a youth player moving within the league.
For a while, it looked as though Arsenal would have to resign themselves to the fact that Nketiah would have to leave in the summer, with the forward already expressing his frustration at not being a consistent run of games in the team, despite a series of good performances, including a memorable hat-trick in the League Cup quarter-final game against Sunderland.
However, after Alexandre Lacazette’s form dropped off towards the end of Arsenal’s Premier League run, Nketiah was asked to step in and lead the line for the club.
Nketiah acquitted himself very assuredly in that time, scoring a number of important goals and causing trouble for opposition defences.
It will be interesting to see just how much game time Nketiah will enjoy in the forthcoming season. Arsenal will likely have plenty of opportunities on the table, especially with the addition of the UEFA Europa League to their schedule.
With the club keen to wrap up a deal for Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus sooner rather than later, Nketiah will likely be a rotation option with a view to starting matches in the Europa League and potentially making the odd Premier League appearance, allowing Jesus to move out wide and afford some much-needed respite for players such as Bukayo Saka.
Nketiah’s decision to remain with the club will likely lighten the load for Mikel Arteta in the transfer market. It has been reported that, in the event of Nketiah leaving, Arsenal would chase two potential strikers this summer, however, with this news, Arsenal will likely only recruit one, with priority then switching to other areas of the squad.
This is just one of the latest new contracts that the club have tied up. Mikel Arteta put pen to paper on a new deal a few weeks before the end of the season, Mohamed Elneny signed a new deal at the end of May and the club have reportedly begun work on potentially securing the futures of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba, the latter of whom is expected to play a prominent role with the club next season.