Former Gunners striker Alan Smith wants to see a promising frontman kept at Emirates Stadium after picking up useful experience at Elland Road
Arsenal should, after cutting short a loan spell at Leeds, be looking to keep Eddie Nketiah around as cover for Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, says Alan Smith.
A highly-rated 20-year-old frontman was allowed to leave Emirates Stadium during the summer of 2019.
It was decided that his ongoing development would be best served by competitive minutes outside of north London.
Nketiah did not see as many as he would have liked during a stint at Elland Road, leading Arsenal to trigger the recall option in a season-long deal.
Another switch is now being mooted in the January window, with a number of Championship clubs being linked with a Gunners academy graduate, but Smith wants to see him stay put.
The former striker told the Evening Standard of a player with 19 Arsenal appearances and three goals to his name: “Eddie Nketiah has been recalled from their FA Cup third-round-opponents after a tough time at Elland Road.
“I am sure he learnt a lot under [Marcelo] Bielsa and he deserves a crack back at the Emirates.
“When he went to Leeds, I was a little disappointed because it looked like he could have been useful in the squad but he has done well off the bench and got himself some goals.
“He will have come to terms with the physical aspect of the division and Arsenal will be getting back a more rounded, better player.
“It would be a shame to see Nketiah sent out on loan again – if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette get injured then you are a little short.”
Nketiah took in 19 appearances for Leeds over the first half of the season.
He registered five goals for the Whites, but only three of those came in Championship competition for Bielsa’s promotion hopefuls.
Patrick Bamford is the favoured striking option at Elland Road, with alternative options having to settle for back-up duty.
Arsenal want more for Nketiah and Mikel Arteta has said that he will be speaking with a player of considerable promise before making another important call on his future.
For now, the Gunners are focused on an FA Cup date with Leeds that will see second tier opposition pay a visit to the Emirates on Monday.