Big Talking Nicklas Bendtner Must Learn To Walk the Walk for Arsenal
As the saying goes, "if you talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk," and Nicklas Bendtner certainly talks the talk. The young Dane is notorious for his outspoken views about his own abilities and his ambitions. Some call it egotism, some call it mere self-confidence but Bendtner certainly doesn't lack an opinion of himself.
Last season the young striker was quoted as saying: ''I'm very sorry to see Adebayor injured as we need him fit and to be playing in the league. But it does not really matter to me who is fit and available I should start every game, I should be playing every minute of every match and always be in the team.'
Self-confidence is certainly no bad thing in a player, and certainly not in a young and ambitious player, so when Bendtner spoke this week of his ambitions for the future he once again lived up to his stereotype.
After picking up the Danish Player of the Year award he said: “I had three aims this year - to get into the Arsenal team, qualify for the World Cup and to be Player of the Year. I have achieved them all. I want to be top scorer in the Premier League, top scorer at the World Cup and, within five years, I want to be among the best strikers in the world.”
Bendtner has long been hailed as one of the brightest prospects at Arsenal, since his loan spell at Birmingham City-where he made a big impression on Steve Bruce, no poor judge of a player who said: “At 6ft 4in, his pace, control, poise and balance is incredible. I don't think I've seen anyone of his size with his attributes.”
While at Arsenal his progress has been more of a slow burn than a red hot inferno, Arsene Wenger has opted to take a more rounded approach to his development. After his loan spell at Birmingham City first team chances to lead the line have been few and far between even with the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor as Bendtner has found himself utilised on the right side of attack-much to his disappointment.
That is not a slight on his abilities by Wenger, more a testament that at 21 he still has plenty of maturing-something which is easily forgotten when you read such statements of intent from a young player.
As such, opinions can become slightly distorted as expectations, raised by the player's own outspoken self confidence, become harder to reach. Arsenal fans have decried him for his inability to finish, his occasional sluggishness and malaise which can at times make the player appear a problem.
Yet weighed against such opinion is the simple fact that at his age there are few, more developed and capable strikers of his ilk, if not in Europe then the world.
For his considerable size, he boasts a wonderful touch and technique, a not inconsiderable turn of pace, and a footballing intelligence which means he can both hold the ball up and act as playmaker with ease-hence Wenger's use of him as a right winger. He is the sort of player Fabio Capello is crying out for-part targetman, part playmaker, part goalscorer.
Fortunately for the Danes, he has been a shining light up front, and his goals record of 10 goals in 31 games indicates a striking capability which can only be enhanced with age. It is unfortunate that his recent injury, two months out with a groin injury, may derail the strides he has been making this term.
But Arsene Wenger himself believes that Bendtner, who he brought to the club as a 16 year old from Danish football, will only get better. Earlier this season he said: "He is a player who will improve every year.
"Nicklas is a good size and is a very pacey player considering his size. He has an intelligent game with good vision. He needs to improve his movement and his finishing. And he will do that.”
Yet now comes the toughest challenge for Bendtner so far, not just living up to the lofty expectations of his manager and the Arsenal fans, but of those he has so publicly set himself. The talent, the self belief has never been in doubt but while talking the talk is one thing, walking the walk could determine just how good Nicklas Bendtner can be.
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