The interesting thing about Nicklas Bendtner’s return to the Arsenal line up is that it wasn’t too long ago that fans were speaking of their preference for the Dane over Marouane Chamakh, who had remained at the Emirates while Bendtner went out on loan.
It’s not to say that one is a considerably better option than the other: if Arsenal fans had their way neither would be at the club, so Chamakh’s permanent departure this summer is a step in the right direction.
Bendtner’s return to the pitch for Arsenal against West Brom will best highlight Arsene Wenger’s dithering nature in the transfer market. The Arsenal manager isn’t incompetent; incompetence doesn’t take you into the Champions League in back-to-back seasons when everyone outside the club tells you it’s impossible. Rather, it showcases how damaging Wenger’s refusal to make a firm decision on a transfer can be.
The fact that Bendtner was almost off to Eintracht Frankfurt and then Crystal Palace suggests the Arsenal manager had no time for him, that his journey with the club was truly at an end. But circumstances worked against the betterment of the attacking options at Arsenal. Had the Dane moved on in the middle of the window, you’d place a great deal of faith in Wenger to recruit a replacement – and I use replacement very loosely.
But the manager had a fallback option, the cheap, easy alternative that he likes to keep close to hand just in case things don’t work out. You know what else is rather interesting about all this? Bendtner is exactly the type of player Wenger used to buy. He’s the troubled talent who has yet to find a home, the player who has put together high-class performances at international level but is seeking more of the same on a weekly, domestic basis. Had Bendtner been at another club, and one who were keen to offload, you’d almost bet your house that Wenger would have come along with a bid. After all, the Frenchman loves a project.
It will take a lot for Bendtner to get back into the good books of the Arsenal support, even if it is only until the next transfer window; though don’t expect Wenger to act in January if things are going fairly well with the striking options at his disposal.
The Dane has the talent, let’s not get too drawn away from that fact. He’s a long, long way off the high pedestal he’s placed himself on, but he does have the qualities to play for a club of Arsenal’s stature. The problem and the question is whether he wants to. He can play Champions League football, he could involve himself with a group of players who are determined to win silverware and have the talent, if not the depth to do so. Or he can continue to dress unusually, act with even less dignity in public and adopt the profile of a nomadic striker.
Fans weren’t too convinced by Mathieu Flamini when Wenger said he was impressing in training and could go on to be of use to the Arsenal team. Much of the same is being said of Bendtner, with Wenger insisting that he’s working hard behind the scenes to get back on track. There’s no hiding the fact that he is troubled and has made a number of poor decisions career-wise, despite being a celebrity in Denmark. But for all the dithering that has caused this return, fans have little choice but to accept what is on the table.
Is Wenger right to place faith in Bendtner?
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