Blog: Why it’s important Arsenal keep hold of Chuba Akpom
17:10 28 January 2015
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Joe Nelson feels it’s imperative that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger retains the services of the England youth international.
Patience is a virtue in football. Chuba Akpom, who has just six months remaining in his contact at Arsenal, knows this better than most.
The Newham-born youngster has been at the club since he was six-years-old. Now 19, his future is currently at a crossroads.
The striker, who went to St Bonaventure’s School, is said to have been offered a new three-year deal, but is considering other options due to lack of first-team football, which he craves.
Having slaved away in the under-21 leagues for three years now, with brief loan spells at Coventry and Brentford and just four short substitute appearances for the Gunners this season, his breakthrough is surely on the horizon. Whether it’s at Arsenal or not is another story.
Scoring nine in 10 appearances in this season’s Barclays under-21 Premier League, the six foot striker has shown great composure in front of goal, and more importantly, consistency.
He has 28 goals in 39 appearances overall in the under-21 League since being promoted, which seems like an eternity ago, and Arsenal fans have grown increasingly restless at Wenger for not using him more frequently.
However, with the January departures of Yaya Sanogo and Lukas Podolski, albeit on loan, and an injury to Danny Welbeck, the striker has been a regular feature on the bench throughout the month, making substitute appearances in both FA Cup ties against Hull and Brighton and a short cameo at Southampton in the league.
With no imminent forward incomings this transfer window at Arsenal, Akpom now has a chance to stamp his authority in training, and when given the chance on the big stage to prove to Wenger why he should be part of his long term plans.
He has also averaged a goal every other game for England’s under-17s, 18s and 20s, working closely with Liverpool’s Jordan Ibe.
Liverpool are one of the several clubs circling for the 19-year-old’s services in the summer if he does not put pen to paper at Arsenal. Manchester City and Everton are also said be keeping tabs on Akpom, along with European interest from Feyenoord, FC Twente and Borussia Dortmund, who Akpom scored against in UEFA’s under-19s youth league last season.
After impressing immensely in Arsenal’s pre-season tours of Asia, scoring for fun, Wenger unveiled Akpom as the next prodigy to come out of the Academy to Arsenal fans across the globe.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, Wenger said: “He has personality and he has quality - He’s more a guy who likes to participate in the build-up, a guy who is brave, a guy who makes good runs and is not a typical goal chaser.”
And ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Galatasaray in December, Wenger said Akpom was “close to the first team.”
With the fixture pile-up at this time of the season, the youngster may be thinking ‘close’ just isn’t good enough, and with plenty of (on paper) winnable games at home coming up this month, this may be now or never for Arsene to unleash Akpom from the start in the Premier League and FA Cup, or he may face a Paul Pogba-like uproar from fans if he goes on to join another super club to excel at the highest level.