The 20-year-old grabbed the headlines – and also grabbed the attention of Unai Emery.
Our head coach revealed that he was prepared to send Nketiah on loan last season, but now expects him to stay in the first-team squad.
Here’s what Unai said:
on Eddie Nketiah…
I’m really happy. Last season in small moments when we could give him chances to be on the pitch, he did very well. I can confirm his progress and we want this progress with every player. Each player has the opportunity to show this capacity and above all first is a very good attitude.
After this is that the young players need experience and they need to take minutes and to have confidence playing with us. The young energy is very important, especially Eddie Nketiah, he is playing and progressing very well.
on how close he came to going on loan…
Last year in December we were thinking of loaning him to Germany. We decided he would stay with us to train and progress with us.
We started this pre-season with the same idea as we finished last year – stay with us. And my idea is that if you progress like we are seeing from you, you can have a chance here for us.
on whether it’s likely he will stay now…
I spoke with him and with the club. He has started with a doubt if it is better for him to stay here with us or leave to play more minutes with another team. But we have examples last year of some players who wanted to go away and didn’t play all we wanted.
I said to him to first be focused here. If you earn the right to be with us it’s because I can promise you that you are going to have minutes. But in those minutes you need to learn. And in the pre-season at the moment he’s playing like we want.
The young players who are here, this is the moment for them to show how we can use them to help us in the season.
on whether Nketiah needs to stay as striker back-up…
Last year Aubameyang also played sometimes as a winger. Last year we had Auba, Lacazette and Danny Welbeck. They had space to play.
We didn’t sign another striker at the moment because we want to give the chances to Nketiah. But every young player, if they deserve to be here we are going to help them.
on how new signings are progressing…
We are in pre-season so we don’t disturb our preparations. The result is not important and today we won 3-0 but Fiorentina created chances. I am happy with the match.
In the first half we didn’t control the game like we wanted, with possession and build-up. We created chances but we also conceded a lot. In the second half maybe we found better with 4-3-3 the structure to control the match. This is the way to convince everyone we need to work harder than last year to achieve our targets.
on whether he prefers a back three or back four…
Last year we worked with both systems and changed it a lot because the quality of players is better with one system or the other.
We have very offensive full-backs and sometimes we need to protect them. We tried to play with four and three. Now I want to be working with both systems because sometimes we can achieve a very big performance with Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac both playing.
Three centre backs is the best for that. Playing Nacho in the centre of a back four is not the best position for him, and Sead Kolasinac I want to improve his performance to be strong defensively in a back four because we are going to use this system.