Bristol City have contacted Arsenal to discuss a mid-season deal to take Leeds United’s on-loan star Eddie Nketiah to Ashton Gate, according to Football Insider.
Lee Johnson’s Robins were keen on taking the England Under 21 striker on loan for the 2019/20 season but lost out to the Whites on Deadline Day in August, after our Director of Football Victor Orta made a personal plea to the Gunners to sanction a temporary transfer.
Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery was reticent to give the green light to Nketiah leaving the Emirates Stadium, having hoped to see the stalwart feature in his first-team plans after scoring his first Premier League goal on the final day of last term against Burnley.
Nketiah’s move to Elland Road has not been as beneficial as Gunners chiefs may have liked, as the 20-year-old has featured for just 273 minutes in the Championship over ten substitute appearances, and has not started a game under Marcelo Bielsa outside of the Carabao Cup.
He has scored five times across all competitions despite his limited game time, though, with three second-tier strikes to his name and two in the EFL Cup.
The Gunners can recall Nketiah in January should they wish thanks to a recall clause in his temporary contract, which can be activated should the youngster not play a designated number of minutes across all competitions before the winter market opens.
Bristol City chiefs would be keen to make another swoop for Nketiah’s services if he is on the market in January, and are understood to have made initial contact with Arsenal to register their interest.
If Nketiah’s signature is up for grabs, the Robins plan to ‘roll out the red carpet’ at Ashton Gate to ensure they welcome him there as they bid to secure promotion into the Premier League.
Bristol City boss Johnson will also give Arsenal and Nketiah assurances that he will be given a regular starting role at Ashton Gate, and the Gunners feel the 5 ft 10 striker’s development would be better served where he is playing frequently.
Should Nketiah start at Huddersfield on Saturday?
Nketiah is back fit now following a lower abdominal injury which ruled him out of four Championship fixtures, before returning with an 11-minute cameo appearance from the bench at home to Middlesbrough last Saturday.
Having Nketiah available for this weekend’s West Yorkshire Derby with Huddersfield Town should serve as the start to a change in philosophy for Bielsa, though, as he otherwise risks losing Nketiah in January.
Bielsa has previously stated that he is reluctant to start Nketiah until he is convinced the England U21 striker has taken on-board his tactics, having developed in a different system in North London to the one he wants to deploy at Elland Road.
“Nketiah has developed at one club, Arsenal, and has to play at Leeds,” Bielsa told reporters in October, via quotes by the Metro. “I am not comparing the level of both, but you can see clearly the performance in one team or the other team. We don’t have the players who win the match themselves.
“Big teams, like Arsenal, they have a lot of players that can win one match with one play. This is natural Nketiah has developed in this school, and he has all the resources, skills, to resolve the needs of scoring one goal. But we need to build the chance at goal, and we cannot build the chances if we don’t have a structure within all the players to create the chances.”
In other Leeds United news, Bielsa is expected to have a £2.25million-rated man available for this weekend’s West Yorkshire Derby at Huddersfield Town.