After Arsenal failed to sign a centre forward on transfer deadline day, it seemed they would be consigned to Theo Walcott and Yaya Sanogo as the only viable options in the absence of Olivier Giroud. However, the Gunners could have an unlikely secret weapon on their hands in the form of the much-maligned Dane, Nicklas Bendtner.
Having seemed destined to leave the club this summer, Bendtner could be set to undergo somewhat of an Arsenal resurrection in the upcoming season. He released a statement shortly after deadline day ended, saying an agreement had been reached with several clubs to secure his signature.
"I was looking forward to a new challenge, with a new club and a fresh start in English football." Despite this, having been denied a move away from North London after Arsenal failed to sign Demba Ba, Bendtner pledged his commitment to the club and finally reassured the fans that he does want to be a footballer – something that has been questionable over the past year.
“The truth is I just want to play football which is when I'm happiest and Arsenal is a fantastic environment for any professional to apply their trade”. He went on to say: “Following positive talks with the manager, I am looking forward to working hard to regain full fitness and doing my very best to help the team and the manager fulfil our objectives and ambitions this season."
Fair enough. He’s done exactly what he should have in the situation he was in. Fans knew he wanted out, so when it transpired he was staying, the best thing he could have done was to reiterate his commitment to the side. He’s talked the talk, now it’s time to walk the walk.
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The pre-conceived perception of Bendtner being a lethargic and hopeless player, deriving from a string of poor performances that occurred mainly when played out of position, is inaccurate. If you ask any knowledgeable Arsenal supporter who has watched the striker throughout his career at the club, they will tell you just how talented he is.
With Bendtner, it’s always been the case of trying to maximize his potential. His undeniable arrogance has stunted him in this regard, as has his affinity to a night out. However when in form, he is a very capable forward with a dangerous combination of both physical strength and technical ability. My view of the striker is this: overrated by himself, yet underrated by many.
Bendtner’s aerial prowess is a significant asset and is arguably more effective than Giroud’s. He also has a valuable penchant for scoring important and/or late goals. Hull, Wolves and Tottenham are examples that immediately spring to mind. In 99 games for Arsenal, many of which were as a substitute or played out of position, he scored 22 goals. That is one goal every 4.5 games – not too shabby all factors considered. Moreover, not only is he a physical presence who holds the ball up well, the Dane is deceptively adroit on the ball and possesses good vision and an excellent touch. Unfortunately the latter attribute will not be a lasting memory due to THAT moment in the Nou Camp.
Regardless, as a lifelong season ticket holder at the Arsenal, I have seen enough of Bendtner to say he is actually a very decent player. At this moment in time, due to the failure to sign an experienced striker in the transfer window, Arsenal fans can’t afford to be picky. Of course it is not ideal and if you’d told me at the end of last season that three months later I’d be writing about Bendtner’s importance to the club, I’d have laughed at you. Yet upon reflection and in the wake of his recent statement, I genuinely believe he could be an asset.
Quite the impact Bendtner has this season all bears down to how much he actually wants it, and how dedicated he is to the cause. If he does stay true to his word, Arsenal could have a very talented player on their hands. As Wenger loves to say, it would truly be like a new signing.
See more from Reuben Lewis @rlewisafc