Meet Arthur Okonkwo, A Nigerian Youngster Travelling With Arsenal To Face Napoli
Arthur Okonkwo has travelled with the Arsenal squad to Napoli ahead of the second leg Europa League quarter-final tie on Thursday.
The 17-year-old goalkeeper has an opportunity to impress ahead of the summer, where Petr Cech is retiring and David Ospina, on loan in Naples, could leave on a permanent basis.
Bernd Leno is the undisputed number one and Emiliano Martinez will likely rise to second-choice but there may be an opportunity for Okonkwo to become third in line to a spot between the posts next season.
But who is Okonkwo? We’ve taken a look at the youngster’s career so far.
When did Arthur Okonkwo join Arsenal?
The young goalkeeper joined Arsenal shortly after starting to play amateur football at the age of seven and he has been a Gunner ever since.
He has spent the last decade at the club and has progressed rapidly, first featuring on the bench for the U18 side when he was still an U15 player.
What sort of goalkeeper is Arthur Okonkwo?
Unai Emery likes to have a goalkeeper who is able to use his feet well and Okonkwo, who is left-footed, fits that bill and, in his own words, trains regularly to improve his power and accuracy with his kicks.
“I’m looking to improve all aspects of my play, but particularly my left foot. I like the different drills, and my favourite is the crossbar challenge. I start off trying to hit the bar with my left foot from the penalty spot, then move five or ten yards further back, and then move back again. That helps me develop power and accuracy,” he told the club’s matchday programme in September.
He also admitted he likes to make spectacular saves, listing Manchester United’s David De Gea as a player he watches regularly.
Arthur Okonkwo played for the first-team before?
No but he has trained with the first-team already, stating that Granit Xhaka hits the hardest shots he’s had to face, and has featured for the reserve side this season.
Okonkwo has made three appearances for the U23 side and a further eight for the U18 team.
How has Emery helped him?
Speaking to the club’s matchday programme , Okonkwo revealed how he has to do more work with the outfield players.
“Much has been made about the emphasis the new manager has on the team playing out from the back, and that filters down to all the teams. I enjoy the demands. We have to work more with our outfield players on positioning and it seems to be going well.”
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