After scoring with regularity for Arsenal at youth level over the past two seasons, Eddie Nketiah announced himself on the senior stage with a brace against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup having been brought on as a substitute.
Nketiah scored twice at Emirates Stadium to send Arsenal through to the next round of the competition and also enhance his burgeoning reputation.
The 18-year-old is one of the most exciting young players to have emerged from Arsenal’s academy in recent years and here is everything that you need to know about him.
Nketiah was previously on Chelsea’s books but was released by the Blues at U14 level due to his lack of height. However, he has developed in that regard of late and is also stronger physically.
The prospect broke into Arsenal’s U18 squad as a schoolboy, often featuring on the left flank, but soon became the regular number nine at that level and then stepped up to the U23s, continuing to score with regularity no matter the age group.
When all his appearances for Arsenal at various levels since the start of the 2015/16 season are taken into account, Nketiah has scored an astonishing 53 goals in 70 games.
Nketiah impressed for Arsenal during pre-season and made his competitive debut for the club as a late substitute against BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Having initially been overlooked by England at youth level, Nketiah has since played for the Three Lions’ U18 and U19 sides and scored a hat-trick against Qatar for the younger age group last season.
Nketiah is a pure goalscorer and is capable of finding the net from all manner of different angles. Quick and possessing excellent close control, his positioning is impressive while he also has a good tactical understanding of the game.
Although he is best suited to playing up front, Nketiah can also have an impact out wide due to his hard-working nature and he has been deployed as a second-striker on occasion.
Nketiah’s playing style is a little similar to that of Jermain Defoe, with the Bournemouth forward renowned for his poacher’s instinct in front of goal.
Aims for this season
Following the impact he made against Norwich, the hype surrounding Nketiah will only continue to intensify, but the 18-year-old is likely to have to wait before he is involved in the Premier League.
The likelihood is that Nketiah will play a significant part in Arsenal’s upcoming games in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup, with his progress to be monitored closely by Arsene Wenger.
If the first-team were to suffer an injury crisis with regards to attacking players then Nketiah now seems to be in pole position to step up.
Can he make the breakthrough at Arsenal in the long term?
Several strikers, including Jay Simpson and Sanchez Watt, have impressed for Arsenal in the League Cup only to go on to endure nomadic careers.
Nketiah will hope that he can build upon his excellent start and seize any further opportunities that he is given.
With many Arsenal youngsters having failed to make much of an impact while on loan, it would perhaps be more beneficial for Nketiah to remain with the Gunners over the next couple of seasons and slowly be integrated into the first-team squad.
The Lewisham-born youngster certainly possesses the right mentality to succeed and if he is fortunate enough to avoid serious injuries he could well end Arsenal’s long wait for a homegrown striker who has come through the academy.