‘They extended my deal for a reason’: Eddie Nketiah hits out at his doubters after signing a new long-term contract at Arsenal… as he explains why he took Thierry Henry’s iconic No 14 shirt
- Eddie Nketiah wants to prove himself on the pitch following new Arsenal deal
- He is set to earn £100,000-a-week with Gunners after strong end to last season
- Many reasons behind picking iconic No 14 – but keen to put his own spin on it
Eddie Nketiah has defended himself from naysayers after signing a new long-term Arsenal contract.
The 23-year-old striker was set to be a free agent this summer, but despite interest elsewhere, he has penned with the Gunners until 2027, in a deal thought to be worth £100,000 a week.
A good run of form at the end of last season saw him score five goals in his last seven matches, and the club are eager to develop his talent.
Eddie Nketiah (right) is keen to show his worth on the pitch after penning new Arsenal deal
‘When you get a run of eight games in the first team, you get that database and platform to show everything you can do,’ Nketiah told The Telegraph.
‘I have worked a lot with the manager on playing with my back to goal, on the spaces to drop into and link play.
‘Of course it has been developed, but at the same time you don’t get here by just standing in the penalty box and scoring a goal.
‘People are always going to say things, but I know what I can do. The people that have played with me, played against me, the coaches that have worked with me, I know how they feel about me.
‘Every team needs a squad to compete. The club is always looking for ways to strengthen. They have extended my deal and they have done so for a reason.’
Nketiah struck five goals in his last seven games of the 2021-22 season, leading to a new deal
Since the 23-year-old remains Arsenal’s only out-and-out striker, the club are eager to find new additions to the frontline, including a rumoured pursuit of Gabriel Jesus.
‘Whoever comes in, you relish the challenge,’ Nketiah added. ‘You make them feel welcome, and then you fight and compete.’
Nketiah took the iconic No 14 shirt as part of his new deal, notably worn by Thierry Henry on his way to scoring 175 goals for Arsenal.
Being a product of the Arsenal academy system since he was a teenager, he was aware of the shirt’s rich history.
The No 14 shirt was previously adorned by Arsenal’s record goalscorer Thierry Henry
The number was available following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s move to Barcelona in January, but Nketiah is keen to make it his own.
‘I joined the club at the age of 14, I wore 14 on loan at Leeds, and I even lived at No 14 at one point,’ the England Under 21s defender revealed.
‘When the opportunity came up to take it, it was hard to say no. I know what it means to the club and the fans. It’s a nice feeling, an iconic number.
‘We know it is a special shirt and Thierry has made it cool to wear this shirt, just like he did with long socks and gloves. It is what we have grown up with.
‘I am just trying to be the best version of myself. I’m focused on creating my own memories in that shirt, leaving my own stamp on it.’
Nketiah’s decision to take the iconic 14 has been criticised by some, including former Spurs defender Jamie O’Hara.
However, it has also been defended by Arsenal greats such as Ian Wright, who held the record for the most Gunners goals before Henry broke it.