Having watched his team miss chance after chance across the season, it is clear Patrick Vieira wants more forward options. While the return to prominence of Jean-Philippe Mateta has been very impressive, the profligacy of ex-Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard has seen him benched for much of the season. An opening day brace has been followed up by the inconsistency and the maddening dips in form that Edouard has endured. This has led Vieira to look for more options in the summer, and one option might already be in London.
For Arsenal, the forward line has become increasingly bare. Many options have left the club, and it has left Mikel Arteta using some younger talent off the bench. One player who meets that criteria is that of Eddie Nketiah. The young striker has endured a tough time in the Premier League, but in the last couple of months looks to have found an improved level.
Recent goals against Chelsea were impressive, while he also had a goal ruled out against Manchester United for offside. The young striker is almost certain to leave the Gunners, though, as he looks for the certainty of a first-team start most weeks. At 22, he has started three games in a row for the Gunners – but that might not be enough to convince him to stick around.
With Palace likely to offer more games and arguably less pressure to develop within, Nketiah could be enticed by a move to South London. Given the player will be a free agent in the summer, Palace could pick up a highly exciting young talent for a fraction of the fee they might have expected to pay for a player of this standard.
Contract rejections pave the way for a move
Recently, Nketiah knocked back a new deal at the Gunners due to concerns over his playing time. While three starts in a row shows some change in his position in the pecking order, scepticism is still present. Reports suggest his camp believe that the extra game-time is a mix of a lack of current options, which will be addressed in the summer, and a short-term ploy to get a new deal signed before returning to the bench.
This has often happened in the past – with Arsenal really desperate for a forward, Nketiah was tried out of desperation as much as belief in his talent. Therefore, especially if Arsenal are in Europe, how many starts are going to come in a row next season for the young forward?
At 22, time is running out to find a proper home and make the most of his young age development. Given Palace have helped to elevate the careers of many young players in their time in the Premier League, Nketiah could find a home at the club.
However, given his own inconsistencies throughout his career so far, Palace could ill-afford another striker who cannot be relied upon most weeks to contribute. An interesting decision awaits, but from the sounds of it Palace are making more realistic offers of game time than Arsenal are.