Leeds United defender Luke Ayling has backed former teammate Eddie Nketiah to succeed at Arsenal after having his loan cut short at Elland Road this month.
The Whites signed the Arsenal youngster on a season-long loan at the start of the season and there was huge expectation built around just how talented he was and the impact he could have for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
However, after joining, starts for the side were hard to come-by under Bielsa, as he was limited to just starting in League Cup ties and coming off the bench in the Championship for the misfiring Patrick Bamford. His first league start came after Christmas when Leeds faced Birmingham City in the final game of the calendar year, to then make his second start on New Year’s Day against West Brom, but was ineffectual up front and hauled off at half-time for Bamford.
This spelt the end of Nketiah’s time at Elland Road as he was recalled to Arsenal, where it has been revealed, somewhat surprisingly, that the Gunners are to keep him in their side for the rest of the season.
Former Leeds teammate Luke Ayling has since spoken out about Nketiah’s time at Leeds and how he thinks he will get on at the Emirates after this loan. He stated to the newspaper I: “I didn’t really give him any advice. You know, he’s a much better player than I was at his age.
“He’s obviously come through the under-23s and he’s got a massive future there – I could see him going back and playing many, many games for Arsenal.
“He’s a very good player, he can score a lot of goals, he’s just got a natural instinct for being in the right place at the right time.”
Ayling was speaking from the perspective of someone who has been through a very similar development as Nketiah, having come through the Arsenal academy himself under Arsene Wenger.
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It’s clear that Nketiah is held in extremely high regard in North London and Mikel Arteta sees him in his short and long-term plans at the Emirates, which you can’t blame him for given the glimpses he has shown for Arsenal and Leeds.
The loan didn’t quite work out for the England under-21 international but he certainly will have learnt a lot under Marcelo Bielsa in the Championship and will be richer for that experience when he links up with his Gunners teammates on a matchday.