Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah is targeting next season to realise his “dream” of playing in the Champions League.
The Gunners sit top of the Premier League heading into the penultimate round of fixtures before the World Cup but face a tough trip to Chelsea on Sunday lunchtime.
Nketiah, 23, started out in Chelsea’s academy before being released and later picked up by Arsenal, where he signed a new contract last summer, reportedly earning him in the region of £100,000 a week.
His good goalscoring end to last season no doubt went a long way to securing those terms, as well as the number 14 shirt previously worn by Thierry Henry, as he hit five goals in his last seven Premier League games – including a brace in a 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge.
Nketiah has yet to get off the mark in the league this year but victory in west London would put Arsenal a massive 13 points clear of Chelsea as they target at least a return to Champions League football.
Not since the 2016/17 season have Arsenal played in Europe’s elite club competition and, with Nketiah not making his senior debut until the following campaign, he is aiming for a crack at the big time.
“That would be a dream come true for me,” he told arsenal.com when asked about his ambitions of playing in the Champions League.
“Especially if I could do it at my boyhood club. Obviously what happened at the end of last season when we missed out on the top four hurt a lot, but we’ve got to use that in our favour this year, to kick on from how we finished last year and I think it will only make us stronger.
“Hopefully we can use that to get back in the Champions League next season because that’s where we all want to be…it has been too long.”
Nketiah revealed he is an avid viewer of Champions League games as he watches the strikers he then wants to emulate when he takes to the pitch.
“I usually watch a game every Tuesday or Wednesday,” he added.
“If we are away with the team we’ll probably have it on the big screen and a few of the lads will watch it in the hotel.
“Or if I’m at home I’ll definitely be watching it. I love watching all football, so of course I watch the Champions League whenever I can.
“As a forward I’ve grown up watching players like Lionel Messi, Neymar, now (Kylian) Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski – there’s loads.
“Messi is the one who always stood out when I was younger. He set the standard and he is still inspiring people now.”