by Lewis Ambrose
Arsenal have been heavily linked with a striker during this transfer window, but teenager Chuba Akpom wants to stake a claim for a spot in the first team.
The 19 year-old has been sent out on loan to Brentford, Coventry and Nottingham Forest in recent years but would rather stay with the Premier League side for the new season despite having to compete with Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck for a place in the side.
“I’d prefer to stay here and fight for a place and give it my all and compete with the other strikers,” Akpom said after the Emirates Cup, which saw him feature as a substitute on both days. “There is a lot of talent in the team but I think I am capable of competing and getting a place in the team, it’s all down to hard work.
“The boss really likes playing young players when he can and that motivates the young players because it shows them that they have a chance.”
Arsène Wenger will certainly be willing to give Akpom a chance whenever possible, but he isn’t likely to get many opportunities with such established players playing in his position.
You have admire Akpom’s belief but his chances of making it at Arsenal don’t seem to be big. He has impressed in the youth teams but he is yet to score a professional goal after 26 appearances and will turn 20 in October; the Londoner is no longer a kid and time is running out. That, however, doesn’t seem to faze him.
“The main thing for me is for a manger to have confidence and faith in me so for the manager to say that he isn’t after another striker is good.
“But the hard work doesn’t stop there it means you have to maintain a place and there are a lot of good strikers and goals in the team so hopefully his season I can give it my all and be involved in the team.”
Akpom’s best chance to make an impression will likely come over the next couple of weeks. Arsenal face Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday before beginning the Premier League season against West Ham a week later and Danny Welbeck unavailable, as is Alexis Sánchez.
There is a chance that Wenger will hand Akpom a place on the bench. Then it will be in his own hands to make it as difficult as possible for the manager to drop him.