'They extended my deal for a reason' - Nketiah aims to prove Arsenal doubters wrong as he talks Ghana and No 14

Eddie Nketiah, Arsenal 2021-22Getty

Eddie Nketiah has told his doubters that Arsenal handed him a new contract “for a reason”, with the 23-year-old striker confident he can deliver on expectations that come with representing the Gunners and inheriting the iconic No 14 jersey that was once worn by club legend Thierry Henry.

Having been due to hit free agency this summer as his previous deal at Emirates Stadium expired, Nketiah has decided to stay put and commit to fresh terms to 2027.

Questions have been asked of whether he is ready to play a prominent role for the Premier League heavyweights despite 56 appearances across the last two seasons, and the former England U21 international is determined to silence his critics where it matters most – on the field.

Did Nketiah deserve a new Arsenal contract?

After scoring 10 goals last season and finishing the campaign as Mikel Arteta’s go-to option when it comes to leading the line, Nketiah told The Telegraph of earning a new contract: “When you get a run of eight games in the first team, you get that database and platform to show everything you can do.

“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. Whoever comes in, you relish the challenge. You make them feel welcome, and then you fight and compete.”

Why did Nketiah agree to take No 14?

Nketiah Arsenal 2022

Alongside penning a new deal, Nketiah has also agreed to change his squad number from 30 to 14, which will see him follow in the illustrious footsteps of Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer, Henry.

On that decision, a confident character added: "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.

"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."

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Will Nketiah play internationally for England or Ghana?

Nobody in history has scored more goals for England’s U21 side than Nketiah's 16 efforts, but there is still a chance he could switch allegiance to Ghana if opportunities with the Three Lions prove hard to come by.

Nketiah said of joining the Black Stars: “There have been discussions, but nothing has been decided.”

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