Arsene Wenger has provided a very understanding overview of Nicklas Bendter’s career as the two come face to face tonight in the EFL Cup.
The former Arsenal man signed for Nottingham Forest this month after a terrible spell at Wolfsburg ended with the Bundesliga side cancelling his contract. It was the latest in a series of mishaps that have plagued his career, but Wenger believes there’s still time for the 28 year old to realise some of the potential he saw in him.
Speaking about his first impressions, the Frenchman said, “He was very young , 16 or 17 years old and I thought he was very interesting because he has a good technique, good stature, good pace, good in the air, good link play – he had it all in the locker.
“He had good periods in his career, and then periods when it went less well for him. He could explain it better as to how he assesses his career because he is an honest guy.
“When he makes mistakes, he is big enough to say it is his fault. Sometimes it was not his fault but you felt he had it all in the locker to make a fantastic career.
“Yes, the perception people have of him is that he is overconfident, but I don’t think so. He was sometimes impatient when he was with us. Sometimes he was disappointed not to get the chance and you can understand that.
“It is difficult – I am not here to judge people. Sometimes you manage to get it, and sometimes we do not find the key. Then you have to leave the key to someone else who has the potential to find it.”
And he backed him to come good at Forest, saying, “Sometimes when you are a player of his quality, you just need an opportunity. We know he is a top-quality player, but he needs to play.”
For his own part, Bendtner seems determined to make up for all that lost time.
“I pictured my career going in a different way, but it didn’t. So I’m going to make the best out of the rest of my career and do the best I can. There are many goals I have set myself over the years. Many things I have said and been killed for.
“I actually don’t regret saying I want to be the best striker in the world, because that’s what everyone wants. It’s just that no one wants to say it.”
And if he scores tonight against Arsenal?
“I have a lot of love and respect for Arsenal as a club,” he said. “If I score against Arsenal I will celebrate, but I promise I won’t be causing chaos.”
A nice reference to Emmanuel Adebayor’s celebration which caused ructions when he played for Man City. There’s something to admire about the fact he still can’t resist a little dig at his former teammate.