Arsenal manager Unai Emery has hinted that with Aaron Ramsay’s departure from the side only around the corner, youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock may be his most suitable replacements.
The two 19-year-olds starred during Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Burnley on Sunday afternoon and were instrumental in producing a result, prompting Emery to suggest their involvement next season could halt him having to buy a direct replacement for Ramsey in the summer.
Ramsey – who is set to complete a transfer to Serie A giants Juventus this summer – has been a permanent fixture in the Arsenal midfield for the past eight seasons, scoring and providing assists under Emery and former boss Arsene Wenger.
Speaking after the Burnley match, Emery brushed off speculation that Ramsey will be directly replaced with a like-for-like midfielder and instead backed his young prospects to be a suitable replacement.
As quoted by Metro Sport, Emery said: “We need to use young players like Ramsey who played here when he was young. Every player can take chances and use these chances to improve with us.”
Nketiah was a direct substitute for Willock during Sunday’s game and managed to bag himself his first goal in the Premier League this season, the latter of the two making way after an impressive hour at the heart of the Gunners’ midfield.
Emery also suggested that it was his duty as a manager to give the youngsters game time in the senior squad. Praising both of them highly after Sunday’s performance, he added: “Willock and Nketiah played the 90 minutes, they used this time to help us with a good match.
“It’s our responsibility to give them chances but find the best performance as a team. Young players need opportunities to be with us in training.”