The Gunners frontman has been having a difficult time with his club but he is hoping that more responsibilty with his country can give him a boost
Eddie Nketiah has admitted concerns over his playing time under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal, after being named the captain for England’s campaign at the Under-21 European Championships.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side will take on Switzerland on Thursday before matches against Croatia and Portugal in a difficult group for the tournament in Slovenia.
The Arsenal No 9 has been a key player for Boothroyd and became the record scorer at this level during the last international break, surpassing a record held by Alan Shearer. However, there are now concerns over his match fitness after he failed to make Arteta’s last six league matchday squads ahead of the tournament.
What he said?
Nketiah, 21, is proud to be captain for the Young Lions and have a platform to prove himself on.
“It’s been a difficult month or so for myself. I’ve not played as much as I’d like to but I’ve worked hard and stayed dedicated,” he said. “I’ve got a great opportunity in front of me and Aidy was in communication throughout.
“I’ve a big tournament ahead of me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to achieve something special. It’s a big honour to even represent your country in a major tournament, nevermind be captain.
“To get that responsibility is a great feeling and one I’m proud of. I’m looking forward to getting onto the pitch and contributing to something special. I was delighted, smiling [when told by Boothroyd]. I’m grateful for the opportunity and the responsibility he’s given me.”
What does his manager think?
“My captain is Eddie Nketiah,” Boothroyd said ahead of the tournament, where England are expected to be contenders to win.
“Eddie is one of our leadership team. He is the record goalscorer for the U21s which is a huge achievement when you consider he beat Alan Shearer to the former record.
“He is an intelligent guy, humble and hard-working. That’s even before talking about his football. He is just a guy everyone likes and respects. He is a top man, so he was the right choice I thought.”
What’s Nketiah’s situation at Arsenal?
The youngster has just 15 months left on his current contract in north London and he faces a pivotal summer.
Similarly, the Gunners see Alexandre Lacazette’s deal expiring in June 2022 so they have a decision to make on what to do around contract renewals for their forwards.