Is it time for Arsenal to give Emmanuel Frimpong a chance next season?
Emmanuel Frimpong was first thrust into the Arsenal side at a very early age with some saying he looked completely out of his depth at Premier League level.
However, Arsene Wenger seems to have handled his situation brilliantly, sending him off for a loan spell at Wolves last season before a recent loan move to Fulham earlier in the season.
It's a loan move which could drastically backfire on the Gunners with Frimpong's contract due to expire this summer and the chances of a free move to Craven Cottage on the cards.
He doesn’t have a lot of stats to go on this season; just one start and one sub appearance for Fulham, but he already looks a much better player, which is great news if you’re an Arsenal fan.
The problem is negotiating a new deal which could be problematic at this point in the season, while he's away at another club. His loan deal with Fulham is set to expire at the same time as his contract at Arsenal.
The next problem is the fact Martin Jol has publicly stated that he will try and sign Frimpong this summer, if he's given the opportunity to do so.
He’s been at Arsenal since a very young age and few other players have his passion and drive for the Gunners. He could be just what Arsenal need in the respect of an aggressive midfield man who can protect the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.
He’s always had a key set of skills which would make him a very good player for Arsenal; pace, precision, accuracy and technique. However, he has been guilty of being a little raw which is something that only improves with experience.
At times this season, Arsenal have been forced to use someone like Ramsey in the middle of the midfield, holding his position as the likes of Cazorla, Arteta and Wilshere all flood forward.
Ramsey is not a holding player so if Wenger can give Frimpong a chance, he’ll release someone like Ramsey who is arguably better in the opponent’s final third of the pitch where there’s less emphasis on his defensive game.
The reason Arsenal fans shouldn’t be too wary of Frimpong getting a first team chance is the example of Alex Song, now at Barcelona.
Song was arguably a much worse prospect than Frimpong at around the same age but he turned himself into one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, who warranted a move to the best side in the world.
Frimpong has a big summer ahead of him because he has to convince Arsenal that he’s worthy of a new contract ahead of next season. Most of all he is an Arsenal fan, and the Gunners should always think carefully about selling players who have the club's best interests at heart.
However, the pressure on Wenger at the moment to get back the glory days means he may just slip under the radar which means one team will be getting a beast of a player.
Arsenal fans, keep or move on?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald