Chuba Akpom’s long affiliation with Arsenal began when he was aged just six. Approximately 15 years on, Akpom is now beginning to establish himself in the Gunners first-team set-up, after patiently waiting for the opportunity to do so.
After joining Arsenal towards the end of 2001, Akpom developed into one of the best finishers in the club’s youth academy, before signing his first professional contract with the Gunners during October 2012.
Subsequently although involved in Arsenal’s senior squad, Akpom has made just seven competitive appearances for the club in all competitions, as manager Arsene Wenger has decided to send the player out on loan during each of the last three seasons.
Helping out Hull
That has enabled Akpom to both, gain a great deal of experience and accelerate his development into an excellent young striker, which he proved himself to be whilst on loan with Hull City last season.
In the process of helping the Tigers win promotion back to the Premier League, Akpom scored seven goals in 41 appearances, including his professional hat-trick against Bury in the FA Cup.
So impressive was Akpom’s early season form for Hull, scoring in each of his first two games against Huddersfield and Accrington Stanley, that he earned his first England U-21 cap. That arrived against Kazakhstan in a UEFA U-21 European Championship qualifier, as Akpom celebrated his debut with a goal.
Since then, the 20-year-old has made three further England U-21 appearances and added two more goals to his account.
Without question, breaking into England’s U-21 team is a wonderful achievement for Akpom. However, convincing Arsene Wenger that he is worthy of a place in Arsenal ’s first team squad for the 2016-2017 season represents an altogether tougher challenge for Akpom. Nevertheless that challenge is one which Akpom is currently rising to, as he performed brilliantly during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the U.S.A.
Prospering during pre-season
As well as scoring the winner in Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over the MLS All-Stars, Akpom struck again to help the Gunners to a 3-1 win against Guadalajara.
Ultimately in scoring those goals, whilst illustrating the development of his strong all-round game, Akpom has announced himself as an excellent striking option for Arsenal, who are due to start their Premier League Campaign at home to Liverpool on 14 August.
Between now and then, Akpom is likely to receive two more chances to enhance his burgeoning reputation, with Arsenal scheduled to play a pair of friendly matches in Scandinavia. Those are against Viking Stavanger and Manchester City, whilst being set to take place in Stavanger and Gothenburg respectively.
Those games represent the formal end of Arsenal’s preparations for the new season, for which Akpom has been assigned the club’s shirt number 32. That was previously worn by Theo Walcott during his first three years at the club but has remained unoccupied since being assigned to Fran Merida for the 2009-2010 season.
Potential to star for Arsenal
Whether or not Akpom will play a prominent role for Arsenal during the forthcoming season remains unclear, but there is absolutely no doubt that the striker has the potential to do so.
Whilst the Gunners are in the market to sign a new striker, at present their best efforts to achieve that are being frustrated, which increases the likelihood of Arsene Wenger calling upon Akpom should he seek an alternative striking option to Arsenal’s first choice forward Olivier Giroud.
As a powerful and quick striker, who is blessed with a wonderful first touch and great finishing ability, Akpom possesses all of the attributes required to become a key player for Arsenal well into the future.