Unai Emery has explained that it wasn’t his first choice to let Eddie Nketiah leave on loan, but it’s a decision he and the player came to together.

Eddie Nketiah receiving a warm welcome from the Leeds fans (Photo via Twitter / LUFC)
Eddie Nketiah receiving a warm welcome from the Leeds fans (Photo via Twitter / LUFC)

Nketiah completed a deadline-day transfer to Leeds United this week, but Arsenal head coach Emery says that wasn’t initially his plan for the player this season.

“My first decision was not to let him leave,” Emery said. “But after he spoke with me and [considering] the possibility of how many matches he is going to play with us, I said to him I could give him a lot of minutes this year but maybe he can improve more playing regularly 90 minutes each Sunday with Leeds.

“Our objective with him is: ‘play and come back here, we want to be with you in the future.’ It’s the same with other young players.”

Leeds’ match against Nottingham Forest this weekend came a bit too soon for Nketiah, who had only joined a couple of days earlier. As a result, he missed out on the squad for the game, but he was presented to the fans in a half-time ceremony.

The supporters gave Nketiah a good reception as he told them: “I’m going to work my hardest to get Leeds to where they need to be.”

It’s understandable that Emery would’ve been hesitant to send Nketiah on loan this season. The 20-year-old scored three goals and assisted one in pre-season, making him joint-top scorer with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

In the end, however, the best thing for Arsenal’s long-term future is if Nketiah has the chance to grow into the best player he can be. Regular football with Leeds is more likely to get him there than substitute appearances with Arsenal.