Whilst many fans showed their excitement surrounding the transfers of Mustafi, Perez and Xhaka this summer, many also allowed the signing of Kelechi Nwakali to pass over almost like it never happened. Nwakali was actually the club’s third signing of the summer after Xhaka and Asano, yet because of his unlikelihood of featuring in the first team, the transfer was largely overlooked.
This week however Arsenal’s latest signings of the summer were able to train amongst the first team squad as a collective group. The training session featured the new faces of Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi, but Nwakali was also present as he awaits clearance to join MVV Maastricht for the 2016/17 season. The season long loan move is subject to a work permit being granted.
Nwakali tweeted his excitement of joining up with the Gunners and stated that he was ‘overwhelmed’ to be training with the first team today. With so many stars on the field at only 18 years old, I for one can understand Nwakali’s excitement. He also announced that he would be flying to the Netherlands this week to finalise his loan move, pending the final touches.
Despite still being relatively unknown, even as a footballing prospect of the future, Nwakali is actually highly rated. The 18 year old captained the Nigerian national side at the Fifa under 17’s World Cup in 2015 and was named the Player of the Tournament as his side went on to lift the trophy. Arsenal had wanted to sign the player in 2015 following on from the tournament, but Fifa Regulations surrounding the transfer of players under 18 outside the European Union, meant that the Gunners were unable to complete a deal until his 18th birthday.
Nwakali, who has named former Gunners striker Kanu as an idol, had various offers from across Europe, but chose to sign for Arsenal given Kanu’s influence on him. It was anticipated that the midfielder may have stayed with the Gunners to get a year’s experience in London, largely playing for the Under 21’s side and possibly a few domestic cup competitions here and there. However instead Arsenal will have to send the player out on loan this season and I hope that the player picks up plenty of experience with Dutch side MVV Maastricht.