Teenage striker Benik Afobe has revealed that at least twelve clubs are eager to take him on loan. The 18-year-old, who signed a new long-term deal at the Emirates in June, was part of Arsene Wenger’s pre-season squad against both Cologne and the New York Red Bulls but has since seen his progress stunted by a spell on the sidelines.
Eager to get fit as quickly as possible the England Youth international says he is now taking inspiration from the return of Thierry Henry and hoping he can pick up a few tips from Arsenal’s record goal scorer.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Afobe spoke in glowing terms about Henry’s influence in and around the training ground.
“Normally, for a young player, the arrival of another player in the same position would be considered a bad thing, but when that player is Thierry Henry there is no better player to learn from when you are a striker yourself.
“It has lifted the fans and everyone at the club, plus he is only here for a few months, so hopefully I can learn lots from him whilst he is here and become a better player and person for it.
Having spent the second half of last season on loan with Huddersfield Town, in a spell which earned him plaudits, Afobe is well aware that playing time is a necessity if he is to prove his worth to Arsene Wenger. Touching on whether he might again leave North London on a temporary basis, the attacker stated:
“It depends what the club want to do really and I’m not sure what the boss wants to do, but I just want to focus on getting fit first.
“My aim has always been to be break into the Arsenal first team because that is what I have wanted to do for the past ten years, but if the boss wants me to go out on loan for a few months then that would be good too.
“Personally, I’d love to stay here at Arsenal because you learn so much from the first-team regulars on a daily basis, but we’ll see how things go when I’m fully fit.
“A lot of teams have been asking when I’ll be fully fit again, including around ten Championship clubs and Glasgow Rangers, plus a Premier League team, but I won’t be going anywhere just yet due to my injury.
“It has been a very frustrating time for me this season, but hopefully I can make up for lost time when I’m fully fit again.”
While criticism has been aimed in the direction of Marouane Chamakh and confusion enveloping the status of Ju Young Park, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the club has young strikers waiting in the wings. Afobe was nothing short of sensational during his spell in the Arsenal Youth team, while summer signing Joel Campbell will no doubt be hoping to seal a work permit ahead of next season once his loan deal at Lorient comes to an end.
You can’t help but think their combined potential may be part of Wenger’s seeming reluctance to spend big this month.