24 Feb

Ghanaian forward Eddie Nketiah reveals how he convinced Mikel Arteta to give him first-team chance at Arsenal

English-born Ghanaian forward Eddie Nketiah believes it was his intensity in training that convinced Mikel Arteta to pull the plug on a second loan move of the season and restore the young striker to the Arsenal fold.
Nketiah spent the first half of the campaign on loan with Leeds United but was recalled by Arsenal after struggling for regular starts under Marcelo Bielsa. The intention had been to send the 20-year-old to another Championship club for the remainder of the season but Arteta changed his mind.
It is proving to be a shrewd move with Nketiah starting the last two Premier League games - as many as he started under Marcelo Bielsa in the Championship - and scoring Arsenal's first goal in a 3-2 win over Everton on Sunday.
Speaking after the game Nketiah made clear that getting his chance at Arsenal had always been the "dream" scenario for him and left no-one in any doubt that it was his hard work on the training ground that had convinced Arteta to keep him in north London.
"He was a bit 50:50 on letting me go anyway and I was 50:50 as well," he said. "Obviously I just trained well and played my usual game, I try to give my all in training and treat it as a game.
"He likes this mentality and obviously the quality I have, I try to showcase that. It's just about working hard, I'm grateful he's given me the opportunity he has and I just want to keep learning.
"He's a great manager and has a real determination to help and improve players, young players and the senior players as well. I just want to keep learning from him, make sure my mentality is right each day and keep improving."
Nketiah had departed for Leeds at the start of the season despite former head coach Unai Emery's public protestations that he should stay and provide cover for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal's hope was that their young striker would flourish with regular game time in the Championship but he struggled to convince Marcelo Bielsa that he had the qualities to displace Patrick Bamford.
Despite making just two Championship starts Nketiah logged an impressive goals to minutes tally for a player who did not get consistent game time, scoring on average every 133 minutes for Leeds.
"My Leeds experience was good for me, I learned as a player," he insisted. "I might not have played as much as I want but I had good moments when I was there when I came on and played. It's just about learning and developing.
"It started really well, obviously I came on and if you check my minutes to goal ratio it's quite good but obviously it's just how things are. Sometimes the manager makes his decision and you have to deal with it. It's about learning from that environment. It's a very good environment to be in, it's a very demanding coach and I learned a lot. You have to learn about yourself and take each opportunity as it comes
"Even at the beginning of the season the manager wanted me to stay but I thought it would be good for me to learn in a new environment and take myself out of the comfort zone a bit.
"I think I developed in that environment but obviously now it is a different situation, speaking to Mikel and the belief he showed in me I really did believe he would give me opportunities if I continued to work hard.
"I think all my life that is what I have done and Arsenal are obviously a top club and I support them so I always wanted to play here so it is the best thing to have this opportunity now and I just want to keep improving and hopefully take more chances."
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