Arsenal were always famous for bringing youngsters through the youth system to become first team players, as Arsenal Wenger once said: “We don’t buy stars, we make them.” Well one youngster that was extremely promising a few years ago was Chuba Akpom, who had incredible goalscoring figures at every level of Arsenal’s youth set-up.
But he only ever appeared four times for the senior side and was was sent on loan to places like Brentford, Coventry, Forest, Hull, Brighton and Belgian club Sint-Truiden in search of first team football which was never forthcoming at Arsenal.
In the end he gave up and at the end of his contract, he bravely joined PAOK Salonika last summer. After a spell on the bench he finally got a chance to shine and last week scored the winner against Olympiakos to put his side 9 points clear at the top of the League. He said: “When I moved to Greece, people were asking why. I feel like I’m finally justifying the move, finally showing people why I came here.”
“Olympiakos was the biggest game so far in my career. Over here, it’s more than football.
“It’s like a religion and it was the first time I felt the emotion going into the game.
“The fans had been waiting for this game for years. Finally PAOK are above Olympiakos. It was amazing to score and make everyone happy. I went into town to eat and everywhere I went people were stopping me to say thank you. I gave them a lot of happiness and they were crying.”
After his settling in period he has now scored 5 goals in his last 6 starts, and if he carries on like this he will surely end up getting a move to a bigger European club. Akpom is now 23 and like a lot of strikers they improve with age. Perhaps Arsenal should have been a little more patient with him and given him a few more games to build up his confidence?