Despite a late-season revival at Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah’s Arsenal future remains uncertain.
Having spent much of the season on the periphery, the 22-year-old looked set to depart North London when his contract expires this summer.
But the Hale End academy graduate was reintroduced into the fold for Arsenal’s top-four run-in with Mikel Arteta’s striking options limited.
And while the Gunners look to have blown their shot at Champions League qualification with defeat to Newcastle on Monday, Nketiah has impressed leading the line.
Ahead of their final-day clash against Everton on Sunday, we look at what the future holds for the striker.
Back among it
Nketiah had to wait until mid-April for his Premier League start of the season but he now has seven to his name.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang departing in January and Alexandre Lacazette struggling for goals, Arteta decided it was time to utilise the England Under-21s international.
And on his second start against Chelsea, Nketiah scored twice — his first top-flight goals in over a year — in a 4-2 victory at Stamford Bridge that at the time seemed to declare them as top-four frontrunners.
Two more impressive performances in wins over Manchester United and West Ham followed before the No30 bagged another brace in a 2-1 victory over Leeds.
But despite finally getting his chance in North London, there seems to have been no progress on the contract front, with Nketiah set to leave the club on June 30 as it stands.
The reluctance to commit seems to becoming as much, if not more, from Nketiah as it is Arsenal.
Speaking openly his future recently, Nketiah admitted: “Obviously there have been talks and offers of a new [Arsenal] contract but at the moment my aim is to play football and play regularly.
“That is my ambition and that is what I hope to do. But at the same time I am at Arsenal, I love Arsenal.
“For me, I feel like I am at this stage where I am thinking I signed a contract for five years when I was 18, and in that five years how many starts have I had? I have probably started about 30 games in all competitions.”
And it is no wonder why he might think opportunities could return to being limited next term.
Strengthening up front is sure to be Arsenal’s No1 priority this summer, with Lacazette destined to follow Aubameyang out the door.
Some reports say Arteta will look for two signings in the forward positions this summer with the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Raheem Sterling all strongly linked.
With all three of those names sure to be starters if they did arrive, Nketiah may think a fresh start elsewhere would be more beneficial for his career.
Premier League interest
The Lewisham-born ace is not short of attractive options if he does move on.
Premier League sides such as Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Ham have all been credited with an interest and appear to be offering Nketiah the playing time he is seeking.
Palace manager and Gunners legend Patrick Vieira wanted to bring Nketiah to the club last summer and reportedly failed with a £10million bid in January.
The Eagles’ future looks bright under the Frenchman adding and another talented young star to their ranks would certainly be welcomed by the Selhurst Park faithful.
Things are also looking up on Tyneside, though it remains to be seen whether the mega-wealthy Magpies see Nketiah as an improvement on what they have and they may favour a marksman with a higher profile.
Recent reports suggest West Ham may be the frontrunners with David Moyes desperate to provide support for sole striker Michail Antonio up top.
With all three of those outfits competing in mid-table or above in the top flight, it is easy to see why playing second or maybe even third fiddle at the fifth-placed Gunners may not excite him as much as those potential offers.
Arteta has made no secret of his “love” for Nketiah recently and is keen to keep his young starlets as they continue their development under the Spaniard.
That bond between supporters and the player in North London is also clear, but Nketiah’s form in recent months shows there is no reason he could not forge a similar one elsewhere.
Ending his seven-year association with the Gunners this summer could well be the smart move for his career.