‘How can you be so ungrateful?’ Arsenal defender Gabriel dismayed as fans question Eddie Nketiah receiving club record goalscorer Thierry Henry’s No 14 shirt after agreeing new deal… and Gunners legend Ian Wright tells striker’s critics to ‘shut the f*** up’
Arsenal defender Gabriel has called critics of Eddie Nketiah’s new Gunners deal ‘ungrateful’ — and club legend Ian Wright waded in to a row over the striker being handed record goalscorer Thierry Henry’s old number 14 shirt.
Out-of-contract Nketiah has ended growing uncertainty about his future by signing a new long-term contract at Arsenal, posing with the shirt number made iconic by Henry during the striking great’s sensational first eight years at the club.
News of the decision on Saturday led to a row on social media, where some fans saw the move as a sign of Arsenal’s decline from their days with the prolific Henry as their top scorer.
Eddie Nketiah (right) will take the No 14 shirt at Arsenal after signing a new long-term contract
The 23-year-old had worn the No 30 and will now don the number once worn by Thierry Henry
World Cup winner Henry joined Arsenal in 1999 and proceeded to win the Premier League Golden Boot four times and the top-flight title twice.
While the club were ever-present in the Champions League with Henry after his first season, Arsenal did not play in Europe in the 2021/22 campaign following four successive years in the Europa League.
Academy product Nketiah added only five goals to his current tally of 10 in 59 Premier League appearances for his boyhood club, enduring a tough end to the season as Arsenal missed out on the Champions League with a run of two defeats in their final three matches.
Defender Gabriel was publicly unimpressed by critics of Nketiah’s new deal with the Gunners
The centre-back offered a baffled response to the backlash following the club announcement
Responding to rumblings of discontent about Nketiah’s deal, teammate Gabriel offered an upside-down smiling emoji and asked: ‘How can you be so ungrateful? OMG [oh my god].’
When one commenter branded Nketiah ‘not good enough for number 14’, said the club should have allowed his contract to expire and suggested he would not develop and was too costly, Wright asked: ‘What’s a number?’
Wright, who has the second-most Premier League goals for the club behind Henry, thundered: ‘Why don’t you say nothing if you have nothing positive to say to our players?
Ian Wright, whose Arsenal goalscoring record was broken by Henry, gave support to Nketiah
Hotshot Wright scored 113 top-flight goals for Arsenal and lifted the 1997/98 Premier League
‘You can never call yourself an Arsenal fan with negativity of this nature. Would you say this to Eddie’s face? If not, STFU [shut the f*** up].’
The former Arsenal record goalscorer admitted last season that he wanted to see more from Nketiah, suggesting the England Under-21s record scorer had not proven himself despite the departure of ex-top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in February.
Nketiah had a purple patch in April and May, scoring braces in wins over Chelsea and Leeds as the prospect became manager Mikel Arteta’s first-choice forward.
France icon Henry was a formidable goalscorer as Arsenal won titles in 2001/02 and 2003/04
Wright (179) broke Arsenal’s goals record in September 1997; Henry overtook in October 2005
Arteta is known to be pursuing new strikers following Arsenal’s release of Alexandre Lacazette and wants to sign Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus, but said he was ‘delighted’ at Nketiah’s new £100,000-a-week deal.
Arteta said: ‘He represents what we are all about and all the values of the club. We are very happy that he has extended his contract and now we have to get to work and continue to develop the great talent and person that we have in him.’
Arsenal players to have graced the No 14 shirt include Aubameyang, Theo Walcott, Martin Keown, Alan Smith, Ray Parlour, David O’Leary and 1988/89 hero Michael Thomas — although Thomas was not wearing 14 when he scored the title-deciding goal at Liverpool on the final day of the season.