Arsenal fans probably don’t care about Nicklas Bendtner anymore? Why would they? He hasn’t played for them since 2011, spending his two most recent campaigns at Sunderland and Juventus respectively.
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece yesterday about the possible clubs the goal-shy Dane may be joining next year. But there is another alternative; one that would see him return to a former club that has undergone something of a revolution since he last pulled on their strip.
It is an on-going revolution – the results of which we are unlikely to see until the new season kicks off, and Sunderland’s Paolo Di Canio takes his prowling, gesticulating position on the touch-line.
But should Bendtner choose (and be chosen) to join it, it could…perhaps…just possibly…be the making of him.
In his first spell at the Stadium of Light, the Danish striker scored 8 goals and provided 5 assists in 25 starts and three appearances from the bench.
It wasn’t a record that set pulses racing. But it was outstanding compared with his record at Juventus last season – three starts and eight substitute appearances yielding not a single contribution to a goal.
In short, the player once hailed as something special is no longer even average. So why would Di Canio want him? And why would Bendtner want to go?
The Italian was something of a complex soul himself in his playing days…and continues to be now his strip has been replaced by a suit. Should he see something in Bendtner worth encouraging, he could sign him for next-to-nothing and somehow break down the lethargy that appears to have affected his progress.
Similarly Bendtner may finally be realising he is not the player he once believed himself to be.
Speaking of his next move last week, he said, “As a footballer there is only one thing that can make you happy: playing time. I can take a step back to take three forward.”
Should this new, humble Bendtner be a reflection of the player we are soon to see, Sunderland could benefit. Of course his old self is exactly what Di Canio preached against at the end of last season.
He wanted men who would fight for him, themselves and each other. He wanted professionals and not just players.
If Bendtner has changed his mind-set, Sunderland may gain something they have lacked for too long – a prolific striker.
It is being reported that five clubs have had offers accepted for Bendtner and it is unlikely the Black Cats are one of them. But perhaps they should be.
In an alternative world, where Di Canio met the 25-year-old and taught him to channel his talent the right way, he could now be banging in the goals and living up to the hype he generated as a teenager.
But that’s the thing with alternative worlds…you can never be sure if they are any different to this one.
Would Sunderland fans welcome Bendtner back to the club? And Gunners fans: is it a case of wasted talent or lack of talent in the case of the striker?
images: © Ronnie Macdonald