Life as a youngster can be pretty difficult in the Premier League. Just ask the 38 Chelsea players currently out on loan, or Nathaniel Chalobah, who made his debut yesterday four years after signing his first professional contract at Stamford Bridge.
Being a millionaire at the age of 20 softens the blow of not getting much first-team action, but there’s still a huge desire to show off on the biggest stage in European football.
Players are often reduced to appearances in the EFL Cup, or seconds at the end of a 4-0 stuffing.
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Arsenal forward Chuba Akpom is one of many trying to crack the first team after a few years on the periphery.
The 20-year-old joined Arsenal at the age of six and is yet to become a regular fixture in the senior teams. He’s been sent out on loan to Brentford, Coventry City, Nottingham Forest and Hull City, and it remains to seen whether this year is the one where he is becomes part of Arsene Wenger’s thinking.
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FIFA regulations mean Akpom cannot leave the Emirates on loan, so the England U21 international will have to make the most of the opportunities afforded to him.
Switch to goalkeeper
Wenger gave the striker his first minutes of the season in Tuesday’s 4-0 win at Nottingham Forest. Akpom was deployed in an unfamiliar position on the left wing but fared pretty well.
After the win, the youngster joked he would be happy to play in goal if it meant receiving more minutes in the first-team.
“I think right now I’d play anywhere,” he told the Arsenal website, per the Evening Standard. “I’d play in goal just to get minutes, just to be involved in the team.
“I didn’t mind playing on the wing, I’ll play anywhere the boss wants me to play, but today it was still an attacking position and I just tried to be as much of a threat as I could.
“[The EFL Cup] is a chance for us players to show the boss what we can do. The boss wants to rest a few players for the cup and it’s just for us to go out there and show everyone what we can do.”
What’s next for a player who Wenger once said has “has the physical strength and the technical quality to compete”? “Hopefully more games and more minutes,” Akpom replied.
“The feeling of just going out there with an Arsenal top on and just playing is the best feeling and that’s the feeling that I want to have, so I’ve just got to keep working hard in training and keep working hard to just get out there and get as many minutes as I can,” he continued.