Arsenal contract rebel Eddie Nketiah must pick next transfer wisely or risk being another who failed to live up to hype

EDDIE NKETIAH has a nice dilemma ahead of him in the coming weeks.

England’s greatest goalscorer at Under-21 level appears to have come to the realisation that he is best served by leaving Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta says he wants to keep him but Nketiah’s sum total of 38 minutes of Premier League action suggests he is hardly integral to the Spaniard’s plans.

Nketiah rejecting a new deal in December suggests he and his representatives concur.

So, if the 22-year-old is to fulfil his potential and go from top prospect to top striker, where does he go next?

Brighton, Crystal Palace and Bayer Leverkusen are the three clubs pushing hardest at the moment to sign him.

And all three are fantastic options who could give Nketiah the platform to make that leap with regular game-time and a club culture that is geared towards developing young players.

Brighton are understood to be pushing hardest and you can see why.

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They have been searching for a new forward for a few years now, ever since club legend Glenn Murray left.

Neal Maupay has proved himself to be a valuable asset this season and has improved his scoring ratio to seven goals in 15 Premier League starts, but he cannot do it alone.

Danny Welbeck has been a superb free transfer yet his injury record means he cannot be relied upon every week.

Nketiah can look to the improvements in countless Albion players past and present to see the transformative effect of Graham Potter’s coaching, from Yves Bissouma to Tariq Lamptey, from Leandro Trossard to Ben White.

Watching Brighton regularly under Potter, it often feels like a clinical finisher is all they are lacking – never clearer than in November’s 0-0 draw at home to Leeds.

Nketiah has shown a lethal instinct in front of goal at Under-21 international level and in the EFL Cup, as his hat-trick over Sunderland in December proved.

The Premier League is a serious rise in standards but in Brighton and with a manager like Potter, it could be a great fit.

But then the same argument could be made for Crystal Palace.

Patrick Vieira has transformed the side’s style of play since the pragmatic days of Roy Hodgson and now they are much easier on the eye, albeit leaky at the back.

That may not be ideal for a defender but for a striker, Palace are a dream right now.

Take last Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to West Ham as an example.

It was a strange match as Vieira’s side were 3-0 down at the break and still with eight minutes to go, yet could justifiably feel a little hard done by they did not take one or even all three points from the match.

That was owing to 22 shots on West Ham’s goal, including a number of decent chances and had Odsonne Edouard had his shooting boots on, he could have had more than his late consolation.

With a progressive style of play and players like Wilfried Zaha, Edouard, Christian Benteke and Conor Gallagher – at least for this season – to play alongside, Nketiah would have the chance to fill his boots.

Palace have options up top but the likelihood is Jean-Philippe Mateta will not be retained beyond his 18-month loan from Mainz, despite his recent revival.

But if Nketiah does not fancy a switch to another Premier League club and wants to go the way of Jadon Sancho and many of his other young compatriots, then Leverkusen looks very attractive.

Gerardo Seoane’s side are currently fourth in the Bundesliga and if they can sustain that position, they will be able to offer something neither Brighton nor Palace would be able to: Champions League football.

Nketiah’s current deal is up in the summer so Leverkusen, as a foreign club, are free to talk to him and his representatives now to discuss a pre-contract agreement.

Should he head to the BayArena, he would get the chance to play with one of the most exciting youngsters in world football, Florian Wirtz – provided the midfielder is still there.

Wirtz, who has four Germany caps already at just 18 and is on Manchester United's radar, has attempted more goal-creating actions (19) and through balls (8) than any other Bundesliga player this season.

Nketiah is at a crossroads in his career and has to pick the right path to avoid becoming another player who failed to live up to the promise he showed as a youngster.

All three of the most interested clubs should help him do that.

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