You could certainly be forgiven for thinking that Chuba Akpom’s Arsenal career has effectively been over for some time.
This season the striker, who turns 23 later this year, was restricted to just one first-team appearance for Arsenal, with the extremely talented Eddie Nketiah edging ahead of him in the pecking order.
Akpom was sent out on loan to Belgian side Sint-Truiden in January and, with his Arsenal contract set to expire in the summer of 2019, it was widely considered that his chance of making the breakthrough had gone .
It perhaps wasn’t anticipated that Akpom would fare quite so well for his temporary side, with the attacker having scored six goals in his last eight games, seeing Sint-Truiden edge closer to earning a spot in the Europa League.
The majority of Akpom’s previous loan spells (all of which were with lower league English sides) certainly didn’t go to plan as he found it very difficult to score and his overall performances often lacked conviction.
Now, though, Akpom is relishing representing a side that bring the best out of him. Sint-Truiden have a similar playing style to Arsenal in terms of pass and move football, which enables Akpom to become heavily involved in proceedings and also drift out to the left wing, where he is always dangerous.
In stark contrast, when Akpom played in the Championship, especially during his spell at Nottingham Forest, he often found himself isolated up front and unable to have any sort of influence on the game.
This is a problem that many Arsenal youngsters face in that they have been educated to play a very specific style of football and then find it extremely challenging when they are loaned out to a side with a markedly different philosophy.
After going through that process on several occasions, Akpom has now found the perfect fit for his playing style and the goals have followed.
The quality, or lack thereof, of the Belgian top flight certainly needs to be taken into consideration but Akpom has performed so well that Arsenal cannot fail to have noticed.
Although Akpom prefers to play up front, he is perhaps best suited to the left flank, where he can use his pace and trickery to torment opponents.
With Arsenal lacking wingers in the first-team squad, perhaps Akpom could be an internal solution to provide backup in that department, at least for the first half of next season.
Whatever happens, Akpom’s exploits out on loan have ensured that the upcoming decision over his future won’t be a straightforward one.