Newcastle United are working on a transfer move to bring Eddie Nketiah to St. James’ Park. Apparently the theme of this Arsenal transfer window is “moves out of nowhere” — the news comes on the heels of the Gunners’ surprising sale of Calum Chambers to Aston Villa. According to some reports, the negotiations are relatively far along and have been going on for a while under the radar.
Nketiah is in the final 6 months of his Arsenal contract and has rejected extension offers from the club, so a January sale is the Gunners’ final opportunity to fully control the return. Should he move on a free in the summer, the club would get compensation from a transfer tribunal because he’s under 24 years old. But Arsenal would likely net more from negotiating the sale themselves than from a tribunal award.
Nketiah is currently in Dubai training with the Gunners, and reports say that Arsenal are reluctant to move him to Newcastle without securing a replacement striker, which makes total sense. Having just Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah as true strikers for the remaining 17 matches is dodgy enough. Having only Lacazette would be beyond foolish.
I can understand the move from Newcastle’s perspective. They have essentially unlimited money, so anything that helps them stay in the Premier League is worth it. Nketiah is probably an upgrade on Chris Wood and Callum Wilson. Or at least he offers something different and younger than the pair.
I understand the move a bit less from Nketiah’s perspective. He doesn’t become the #1 striker at Newcastle when he walks in the door, and he has to realize that at any point, the club could go spend £100M on one of the best strikers in the world. But Nketiah has always struck me as the type of player to bet on himself (although what professional footballers aren’t supremely confident in their own abilities) and believe that he’s going to lock down the role.
For what it’s worth, I’ve always thought that Nketiah had the profile to score 10-15 goals a season at a lower mid-table club. He gets into good positions in the box and seems to know where ball is going to end up. He strikes me as a budget Jamie Vardy. I don’t think he’ll ever get to Vardy’s level, but you can do worse than becoming Vardy-light.
I suppose the good news is that if Nketiah does end up going to Newcastle, it likely means Arsenal are bringing in reinforcements at striker. Like, they’d have to? Right?!