But the Gunners opted to send him out on a season-long loan to Championship side Leeds, and the England U21 international struggled to get significant game-time at Elland Road. The young striker managed just 495 minutes of football in the league, and Arsenal rather unsurprisingly recalled him earlier this month.
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Initial reports seemed to suggest that he would be sent out on loan again, with Bristol City named amongst the front-runners for his signature. But according to Goal, after impressing Mikel Arteta during training, the Gunners head coach has personally intervened and decided to keep him for the rest of the campaign.
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After hearing about the news, Arsenal fans took to Twitter to voice their thoughts on the decision to keep the 20-year-old for now.
Big fan of this
— James Batchelor (@jbatchelor95) January 15, 2020
I’m happy that Nketiah is staying.
You know that he will fight, I think Arteta can get a lot from him and push Laca hard.
These next 18 months are make or break for me with Nketiah. Kids gotta show something for me otherwise John-Jules will be closer to the next spotlight.
— The Gooner Talk (@TheGoonerTalkTv) January 15, 2020
A couple of fans dreamed up how Nketiah could potentially fit into Arsenal’s line-up, with one supporter in particular claiming that a front three of the striker, Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson will win the club the Europa League.
Front 3 of martinelli nketiah and Pepe
— joe (@joe__afc) January 15, 2020
Front three of Martinelli Nketiah Nelson gonna win is the Europa league
— hr1234 (@henryrouse161) January 15, 2020
A few supporters discussed Alexandre Lacazette in relation to the decision to keep Nketiah, claiming that the Frenchman could now be set for a summer exit from the Emirates.
Laca is gone in the summer no doubt
— Sakanelli (@sakanelli) January 15, 2020
Laca should be sold and we can reinvest the money!
— Rusu Adrian (@Rusu_Adrian) January 15, 2020
A couple of fans of the north London side praised Arteta’s decision-making, with one supporter saying this is the first move that has convinced them of his intelligence.
Good call boss
— Arsenal till I die! (@arsenaltil) January 16, 2020
Arsenal needs him more !! First move by arteta that’s convinced me his intelligent @LeeGunner82
— Ray Carter (@SugaRay19) January 15, 2020
Having an extra striker on their books for the rest of the season will go a long way to easing the goal-scoring burden on the likes of Lacazette and Aubameyang. And whilst it can boost the Gunners in the short-term, it also has the added long-term advantage of Nketiah being able to get tuned into Arteta’s demands as a head coach.
These next few months will set him up nicely for him to stake a much bigger claim next season, and it seems like a very logical decision for the north London side to keep hold of their academy product for the time being.