Arsene Wenger says that Eddie Nketiah has what it takes to make a career at Arsenal but he won’t be rushing the 18-year-old into Premier League action just yet.
The Academy graduate made an instant impact on his home debut on Tuesday night when he came off the bench to grab a match-winning brace to put the Gunners into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup at the expense of Norwich City.
Asked in his pre-Swansea press conference whether his young charge will receive more first team minutes, the boss hinted that he’d rather allow the striker to develop gradually.
“He will continue to get a chance,” said the boss. “Of course [he’ll play a role] if he continues to develop.
“It’s two things. You cannot think that a guy is ready to play in the Premier League straight away because he’s scored two goals. He has to continue to develop. If he’s scored two goals, there’s some quality there that we have to take care of.
“At the moment, the biggest problem of the Premier League… if you look at the results at youth level for England Under-17s, you see the under-20s are world champions too and the under-21s are doing well – and that’s the first time that’s been the case since I’ve been in England.
“It’s the first time there’s been a consistent level of results in England’s youth teams. That means the quality is there and the next step is to integrate them in the Premier League.
“As managers today we are confronted, and the position of managers has become weakened in the past 20 years. To integrate the young players, you need to be strong. That is a problem that England will have to sort out in the coming years, to give a chance to these young, quality players.
“Honestly, I believe that is the final step of the development of the young players, but also the most difficult.”
In a separate interview with Arsenal.com, Wenger underlined that for the moment he’ll continue to rotate his squad to cope with the demands of the Premier League, Europa League and Carabao Cup schedule. It means Eddie will challenge for a spot in the latter competitions.
“I believe that, at the moment, we’ll leave what’s going well in both sides,” said Wenger.
“What is great is how quickly you can make an impact, like Eddie did.
“My job is not to rush them too much, but to continue their development. I believe that Eddie has a good chance of making a career with us and that’s what I feel responsible for. Maybe not on such a small timescale!”