Eddie Nketiah is used to finding the net but one particular goal had hitherto been difficult for him to achieve, with the prospect having been overlooked by England at youth level.
That changed yesterday when the prolific striker was included in the latest England U18 squad alongside three of his Arsenal team-mates – Marcus McGuane, Tolaji Bola and Reiss Nelson.
Nketiah has been sensational in front of goal over the past couple of campaigns – he finished last season having scored 28 times in all competitions, while this season he has been on the scoresheet five times for the U23s, three times for the U19s and eleven times for the U18s.
No matter the age group, no matter the opposition, no matter the circumstances of the game, if he is playing then Nketiah usually scores. The prospect, who was previously on Chelsea’s books, fully merits his England call up and will hopefully become more frequently involved in the national team set-up.
It is at club level, however, where Nketiah will be most concerned with making an impact. There have been several strikers, most notably Benik Afobe, who were regular goalscorers for Arsenal at youth level but were unable, for one reason or another, to make the breakthrough.
Nketiah will be determined not to fall into that trap and he is certainly making great strides, becoming increasingly involved with the U23s, while still making an impact when he is needed for the U18s.
It has been well documented that producing strikers from the academy has been a major challenge for Arsenal of late, but Nketiah is eager to buck that trend.
It certainly won’t be easy and being prolific at youth level is certainly significantly easier than being prolific on the senior stage. Nketiah does, however, possess the raw qualities that are needed to make it and it is evident that he is much more than just a goalscorer, with the youngster often drifting into wide areas to excellent effect, while he is also capable of linking play effectively.
It is his clinical nature in front of goal that stands out most, however, and Nketiah’s goalscoring exploits have certainly served to boost his confidence. At just 17, he can improve even further and this season has certainly become physically stronger and more tactically aware.
His England call-up is the latest in a long list of accolades, and now it will be intriguing to see just how far Nketiah’s talent will take him.