Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit has urged Eddie Nketiah to stay at the club, but also believes that the Gunners need to sign a new striker regardless.
A few months ago, Nketiah looked set to leave the Emirates, with the 22-year-old nothing more than a bit part player under Mikel Arteta.
But after scoring four goals in four Premier League starts across April and May, form that has put Arsenal on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League, the striker’s future is now a lot more uncertain, with his strong performances leading to calls for his contract to be renewed.
Petit, who won the 1998 league and FA Cup double with the Gunners, is one of those urging him to remain with his boyhood club.
‘He has to stay!’ the Frenchman told Metro Sport via Genting Casino, ahead of Thursday’s North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham.
‘He’s playing with anger. He was asking for more game time, and he’s taken the responsibility on the pitch and scored important goals.
‘Nketiah is a young talented player with a big motivation to become a star, which means if he can follow the steps of [Gabriel] Martinelli, [Emile] Smith Rowe and [Bukayo] Saka that would be a very good thing for him and for Arsenal, but I definitely want him to stay at Arsenal.’
Nketiah certainly fits the mould of what Arteta is building at Arsenal, a young, vibrant team with an emphasis on attacking quickly, with many players enduring breakthrough seasons this campaign.
However, while the team has strong players in every position, the striker situation is precariously placed, with the sudden departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January leaving Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette as the only natural No.9’s in the squad.
Both players are out of contract at the end of the season, but Petit believes that if Arsenal are to compete with the top teams in Europe, they will need to sign a new striker in the summer, no matter who stays or goes.
‘It’s probably the case that Lacazette will leave the club at the end of the season,’ the World Cup and Euros winner added.
‘But even with Lacazette and Nketiah in the team, Arsenal need a very top striker who can score at least 20 – 25 goals during the season, to compete in the Premier League.
‘I want Arsenal to buy a different kind of striker. What Arsenal need desperately up front, and this includes on the wings, is speed players.
‘Don’t be mistaken, modern football is about speed. Everything is speed, the pressing, the playing, everything.
‘They need to bring speed up front. Martinelli is a very quick player, Saka as well on the right-hand side but up-front Lacazette is not a speed player and Nketiah can be fast, but they definitely need a different kind of profile of player.’
Petit has also named Tammy Abraham as his ideal signing, following the former Chelsea striker’s brilliant debut campaign for Roma, where he has scored 24 goals in 49 games.
The 24-year-old came close to signing for the Gunners last summer and is reportedly still on Arsenal’s radar, although agreeing a fee for the England international may prove difficult.
Petit added: ‘So which kind of player should they sign? I really like Tammy Abraham.
‘What he’s doing at Roma in Italy and if they can bring him back to England he will be back in London with the feeling of revenge, and for me it’s very important to have that extra motivation.’
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