Eddie Nketiah has now shared what Arsene Wenger told the striker after he scored as Arsenal came back to pip AS Monaco on penalties in the Emirates Cup on Wednesday.
The Gunners edged their final pre-season friendly of 2023 with a 5-4 victory in the shootout. Youssouf Fofana put his Ligue 1 club in front in north London in the 31st minute. But Nketiah replied 12 minutes on as the Arsenal academy product stood in for the injured Gabriel Jesus.
Manager Mikel Arteta confirmed after the Emirates Cup that Jesus will miss the start of the 2023/24 season. The Brazilian underwent minor surgery after feeling discomfort in the knee he injured at the World Cup in 2022. Nketiah may now lead Arsenal into the new campaign.
Eddie Nketiah was captain fantastic as Arsenal beat AS Monaco
Nketiah even captained Arsenal against Monaco with Arteta starting Martin Odegaard on his bench for the Emirates Cup. The coach surprised many with his decision to award the striker the armband. But Nketiah showed strong awareness to nip in and score from a deep corner.
His link-up play was often solid throughout the 24-year-old’s time on the pitch, too. Nketiah also impressed Wenger, who made a rare visit to Arsenal for the Emirates Cup. The Gunners’ iconic manager attended their friendly with Monaco after the club unveiled a statue of him.
MORE ARSENAL STORIES
Wenger and Nketiah have strong connections, too, as the Frenchman handed the striker his senior Arsenal debut in September 2017. The forward appeared against Bate Borisov in the Europa League aged 18. He also made his Premier League debut at Brighton in March 2018.
What did Arsene Wenger tell Eddie Nketiah after the Emirates Cup?
Nketiah has since forged his career with Arsenal under Unai Emery and Arteta after Wenger stepped down in May 2018. But FIFA’s chief of global football development is proud of what the forward has done in the years since. And Wenger told Nketiah so after the Emirates Cup.
“I’ll take him [to the Nottingham Forest match] next week, as well, if he can,” Nketiah told Arsenal’s in-house media. “I was speaking to him in the changing room after and he’s really proud of me.
“I’m really grateful for everything he did for me for my career, and it’s great to have such a legend here and see a new statue outside.
“He just told me to keep going, he thinks my game’s come on a lot since [he left]. He’s really proud of me. Obviously, he’s seen me develop and watched me from when he first gave me my debut up until now. Like I said, I’m really grateful and it’s really good to see him around.”
Wenger made his long-awaited return to Emirates Stadium for the first time since his exit on Boxing Day last year. Nketiah started the game following Jesus’ injury and scored as Arsenal beat West Ham United 3-1. He went on to score three times over his next four outings, too.