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Nketiah is a part of Arsenal's future, says Emery after forward joins Leeds

23:04 WAT 10/08/2019
Eddie Nketiah Arsenal 2019-20
The 20-year-old is to spend the season on loan under Marcelo Bielsa's guidance at Elland Road, but the Gunners boss would have been happy to keep him

Unai Emery says young forward Eddie Nketiah is a part of his plans for Arsenal’s future, despite being sent out on loan.

The 20-year-old will spend the season under Marcelo Bielsa’s tutelage at Leeds, replacing Kemar Roofe at Elland Road after his exit to Anderlecht.

Emery said he wasn’t desperate to send Nketiah away but, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette occupying the striking berths, it was better to let him leave for the time being.

“We decided to let [Alex] Iwobi leave to Everton,” Emery said. “He was very important for us last year. But we need to manage with a good balance with different players.

"It was the same with Eddie Nketiah, my first decision was not to let him leave. But after he spoke with me and [considering] the possibility of how many matches he is going to play with us, I said to him I could give him a lot of minutes this year but maybe he can improve more playing regularly 90 minutes each Sunday with Leeds.

"Our objective with him is: 'play and come back here, we want to be with you in the future.' It's the same with other young players.”

Arsenal’s front-line is looking in good shape ahead of the new season, with Aubameyang and Lacazette complemented by new club-record signing Nicolas Pepe.

Whether they will have enough to fight on four fronts, with another Europa League campaign to look forward to, remains to be seen. But for now, Nketiah will continue learning his trade in the second tier.

"I've been at Arsenal for a while now in and around the first team, on the fringes and played a bit,” Nketiah said.

“I feel like it was important this season for me to go somewhere where I feel like I can get consistent game time and take the next step in my development. I feel like I can do that here.”

Nketiah missed out on making his Leeds debut on Saturday, watching from afar with EFL regulations stating that only five loan players can be included in the 18-man squad for any one match.

That quota was filled by Illan Meslier, Ben White, Helder Costa, Jack Harrison and Jack Clarke, leaving Nketiah to sit out as Leeds fought to a 1-1 draw at home to Nottingham Forest.