Freddie Ljungberg expresses sympathy for 'future of Arsenal' and Leeds United loanee Eddie Nketiah
Freddie Ljungberg has expressed his sympathy for Leeds United loanee Eddie Nketiah, who he calls 'the future' of Arsenal Football Club.
The Gunners' interim head coach was asked before tonight's game against West Ham what he made of the striker's situation.
Nketiah has found match minutes hard to come by at Elland Road this season and when he did finally manage to shift Patrick Bamford from the starting striker role, injury struck.
The 20-year-old suffered a mystery abdominal injury 24 hours before he was due to get his first Championship start for Leeds against Queens Park Rangers on 2nd November.
He was taken to hospital and missed four games before returning to the bench on Saturday for the game against Middlesbrough.
While Nketiah was out, Bamford rediscovered his goalscoring form, finding the net against Blackburn Rovers, Luton and Boro.
The possibility of a recall by Arsenal has kept Nketiah in the headlines in recent weeks.
Bristol City CEO Mark Ashton told the BBC they are still keen on the attacker, should he become available.
"He would be someone we would definitely consider if the fit was right and we were able to do it," he said.
"It would be remiss of us to have someone like him as the only option."
And Ljungberg did little to dispel fears in the Leeds fanbase that they could lose the frontman in January.
"I need to be careful but I think Eddie is a great player," he said.
"If he goes on loan we want him to play football and get minutes otherwise they (players out on loan) can maybe be here. We want them to be on loan to get minutes.
"I feel a bit sorry for him because he is a great player and the future of this club. When he has had his chance he scores goals and that’s what he is about."
Leeds are confident that Nketiah will remain and head coach Marcelo Bielsa has stated that Nketiah himself will dictate what happens in the transfer window, depending on how comfortable he feels at Elland Road. But the Whites have been working on contingency plans, with a shortlist drawn up of strikers who could replace Nketiah if Arsenal were to bring him back.