Unai Emery has thrown down the gauntlet to Arsenal youngster Eddie Nketiah to prove he is deserving of regular first-team football at the Emirates.
Nketiah, 20, has been the stand-out star of Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States, notching three goals in his last two games, including a late winner against Bayern Munich in midweek.
The young striker followed that up with a brace against Fiorentina on Saturday, as Emery’s men ran out convincing 3-0 winners over the Serie A outfit.
talkSPORT.com understands QPR are among a host of Championship sides who want to sign the talented forward on loan, while there is also strong interest in his services from the Bundesliga.
However, Emery believes Nketiah has a ‘chance’ to progress with the first team now at Arsenal – revealing they denied the youngster a move to Germany last season owing to Danny Welbeck’s injury.
“Last year in December we were thinking to loan him to Germany,” Emery said.
“We decided he stays with us to train and progress with us. We started this pre-season with the same idea as we finished last year – stay with us.
“My idea is if you progress like we are seeing from you, you can have a chance here for us.
“I spoke with him and with the club. He has started with a doubt if it is better for him to stay here with us or leave to play more minutes with another team.
“But we have examples last year of some players who wanted away and didn’t play all we wanted.”
He continued: “I said to him first be focused here.
“If you earn the right to be with us it’s because I can promise you that you are going to have minutes.
“But in those minutes you need to learn. And in the pre-season at the moment he’s playing like we want.”
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Arsenal would be left with no cover for star strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should Nketiah depart the club on a temporary basis, with Emery adding that the club’s faith in the latter is why they haven’t signed a replacement for Welbeck to date.
“Last year we had Auba, Lacazette and Danny Welbeck,” Emery said.
“They had space to play. We didn’t sign another striker at the moment because we want to give the chances to Nketiah.”
While Nketiah is open to the idea of going out on loan, particularly abroad, Emery’s recent comments could mean he fancies his chances even more than before of breaking into Arsenal’s first team.