Unai Emery has challenged Eddie Nketiah to ‘earn the right’ to remain part of his first-team plans this season by continuing his impressive progress.
And Arsenal’s head coach Emery has promised Nketiah he will be rewarded with game time if he does.
Young striker Nketiah, 20, has been the standout performer during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of America, scoring three times with a winner against Bayern Munich and double against Fiorentina.
Eddie Nketiah celebrates after netting one of his two goals for Arsenal against Fiorentina
Nketiah poses with his Man of the Match award after the game in Charlotte on Saturday
But the club and player have a major dilemma over whether he stays to give Emery reliable backup to senior stars Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or if the best thing for his development is a loan move.
Bristol City are keen on taking Nketiah for the season for what would be his first loan spell away from Arsenal after seeing a proposed switch to German side Augsburg collapse in January.
Emery said: ‘Last year in December we were thinking to loan him to Germany. We decided he stays with us to train and progress with us.
‘We started this pre-season with the same idea as we finished last year – stay with us.
‘And my idea is if you progress like we are seeing from you, you can have a chance here for us.
Unai Emery has promised the 20-year-old game time if he continues impressive progress
‘I spoke with him and with the club. He has started with a doubt over if it is better for him to stay here with us or leave to play more minutes with another team.
‘But we have examples last year of some players who wanted away and didn’t play all we wanted. I said to him first be focused here.
‘If you earn the right to be with us it’s because I can promise you that you are going to have minutes.
‘But in those minutes you need to learn. And in the pre-season at the moment he’s playing like we want.
‘The young players who are here, this is the moment for them to show how we can use them to help us in the season.’
Arsenal youngster Nketiah scored a brace to hand the Gunners a comfortable victory
Emery revealed Arsenal are not pursuing a striker in the transfer market because they have Nketiah coming through.
And he insists the youngster will have numerous opportunities to play even with two established strikers ahead of him.
He said: ‘Last year Aubameyang also plays sometimes as a winger. Last year we had Auba, Lacazette and Danny Welbeck. They had space to play.
‘We didn’t sign another striker at the moment because we want to give the chances to Nketiah. But every young player, if they deserve to be here we are going to help them.’