Arsenal are prepared to perform a U-turn and make Eddie Nketiah one of their top earners, though a report has detailed seven potential hitches in their plans.
The 22-year-old has hit a purple patch of form at just the right time. Nketiah has bagged four goals in his last four matches to give Arsenal vital breathing room in the race for the top four.
Indeed, the Gunners currently sit four points above their bitter rivals, Tottenham. That means the fate of fourth spot will still remain in Arsenal’s hands even if they lose the north London derby on Thursday night.
Arsenal’s striker department looks destined to experience great change this summer. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already left, while Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette are free agents-to-be.
All three departing would leave Arsenal scrambling to sign at least two new strikers. However, according to the Sun and Mirror, Nketiah may yet be retained.
The Mirror initially reported that a third round of talks had been held with Nketiah and his camp. On the agenda is a contract extension, which the Sun stresses would make him very rich indeed.
They add that his current salary is believed to be around £45,000-a-week. However, if the new offer is accepted, he would go from being "one of the lowest earners in the squad to one of the highest".
Yet both reports agree that pinning Nketiah down to fresh terms isn’t straightforward, not least because six potential suitors are circling.
Suitors are ready to pounce.
From within the Premier League, West Ham, Brighton, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle are all linked.
The Palace tried to sign Nketiah in January before turning Jean-Philippe Mateta’s loan spell permanent instead. The Daily Mail recently claimed David Moyes’ Hammers are currently on pole position if Nketiah were to leave.
The initial reports also indicate that two German clubs – of which Bayer Leverkusen are one – are circling for Nketiah. The identity of the other side was not revealed.
West Ham targeting pair from Arsenal
West Ham are targeting forward Eddie Nketiah and centre-half Konstantinos Mavropanos from Arsenal in a potential double summer swoop.
Those six hits ensure Nketiah will not be short of options. However, the seventh is arguably the biggest barrier to Arsenal’s hopes.
It’s once again stressed that Nketiah is desperate to feature regularly. Only recently has he begun to do so under Mikel Arteta, but if another major name is signed, he could be relegated to the bench yet again.
Arsenal are almost certain to sign at least one high-profile forward even if Nketiah stays. Man City’s Gabriel Jesus is understood to be their top target at present and his agent recently spoke out on a move.
Should Nketiah stay or go?
The answer to that question largely depends on who and how many other strikers Arsenal signs this summer. However, it is unreasonable to think Nketiah will wait until their transfer plans are completed before deciding on his own future.
Nketiah is more of a poacher than Lacazette, and that type of striker may be just what Arsenal need.
They have an abundance of creativity in the trio that lines up behind the lone centre-forward. The likes of Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard will create chances for fun, and Arteta needs a forward who can convert at a high rate.
Furthermore, Arsenal are guaranteed to be in Europe next season and look odds-on to qualify for the Champions League.
Even if they drop into the Europa, strength in depth will be required. Nketiah would be given his fair share of minutes with the return of regular midweek football forcing rotation.
As such, we reckon Nketiah would be wise to remain at the Emirates with the club finally trending in the right direction. If he is as good as he believes, he’ll back himself to get minutes regardless of who the club signs.