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Unai Emery sets Eddie Nketiah Arsenal challenge after pre-season form

Unai Emery has challenged young striker Eddie Nketiah to stay at Arsenal and earn a first team place.

In-form Nketiah scored twice against Fiorentina to make it three goals in two games on Arsenal’s pre-season tour and is quickly convincing Emery manager to keep him this season.

Bristol City are keen to sign Nketiah on loan this summer while German club Augsburg came close to getting him last January but Arsenal pulled the plug on the loan move.

But Emery believes the 20-year-old can be a part of his first team plans this season if he keeps on improving as he has shown in the International Champions Cup tournament in the United States.

Gunners boss Emery said: “Last year in December we were thinking to loan him to Germany. We decided he stays 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.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – JULY 20: Eddie Nketiah #30 of Arsenal celebrates a goal against Fiorentina in the first half during their 2019 International Champions Cup match at Bank of America Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/International Champions Cup/Getty Images)

“And my idea is if you progress like we are seeing from you, you can have a chance here for us.

“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 away and didn’t play all we wanted.

“I said to him 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.

“Each player has the opportunity to show this capacity and above all first is a very good attitude. After this is the young players need experience and they need to take minutes and to have confidence playing with us.

“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.

“The young energy is very important, especially Eddie Nketiah was playing and progressing very well. 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.

“Last year we had Aubameyang, 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.”

Arsenal have now flown to Washington to finish their US tour against Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

It was searingly hot in Charlotte with temperatures nearly reaching 100 degrees but they made it back-to-back wins despite the conditions and Emery is happy with the preparations.

Emery added: “The result is not important and today we win 3-0 but they 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.”

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