His unheralded return to the Emirates hasn’t exactly been fruitful, but remaining in North London is the best option for Nicklas Bendtner.
The Dane’s career trajectory is one that requires no introduction, as he’s gone from one of the most anticipated strikers in Europe to an object of widespread ridicule.
In recent times the 26-year-old has become more renowned for making absurd statements touting his own abilities rather than hitting the back of the net.
Fresh off a loan spell with Juventus that saw him pick up a Serie A winner’s medal – as well as the ‘Bidone d’Oro’ for being voted the league’s worst player – Bendtner hasn’t found much glory back with the Gunners.
Just a single start in the Premier League with seven appearances from the bench have characterised his action – yielding a haul of only two goals - but his effort has been appreciated by the fans, with one goal a crucial one which broke the deadlock late against Cardiff.
Over the past months the wayward striker has been linked with a variety of sides – wage demands often proving a stumbling block – with Lazio the latest to reportedly show interest.
But why would the Denmark international be quick to move back to Italy?
After all, having been cited as the pinnacle of substandard performance already in Serie A doesn’t lend confidence he’d succeed there the second time around in any measure.
Opportunities would certainly be greater than at Juventus – though it must be pointed out that Bendtner was part of a Bianconeri side that didn’t yet include Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.
He’s only just returning from injury, having picked up an ankle problem on New Year’s Day against Hull – so hitting the ground running in a hostile environment is even less likely.
From the perspective of his current employers, keeping him until the end of the season seems sensible enough, as well.
Arsene Wenger already had a dearth of options upfront prior to Theo Walcott’s devastating blow – Olivier Giroud already overworked and in need of cover.
Time is ticking in the transfer window and there are no guarantees a striker will be brought in, the French tactician quipping on Monday he’d give his telephone number to anybody with leads on reinforcements.
So whilst Bendtner certainly isn’t the goal machine many thought he’d be in his teenage years – he’s what Arsenal have, and in turn Arsenal are what he has.
For player and club, there’s no reason to change the status quo at present. Sure, the situation isn’t ideal for both parties, but there’s no overwhelming reason to change it at the moment.
We revealed on Tuesday that Bendtner possesses the second-best conversion rate in the Premier League this term – albeit in a small sample size.
If the Dane can slightly expand his scope of minutes over the stretch run, however, he may just be of decent value to Arsenal in the stretch run for the title.
And then maybe – we’ll leave it as maybe – he’ll have vindicated the circumstance-mandated stay of his at the Emirates past this January.
Should Arsenal keep hold of Bendtner for the rest of the season?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald