Can Benik Afobe overcome his injury woes, fulfill potential at Arsenal?
20 year-old Benik Afobe has shown plenty of promise while at Arsenal. He is a well-rounded footballer and has always been known for his clinical finishing, whether on the floor or in the air. He is also versatile and is well able to play on either wing, where he uses his pace and power to be direct and drive at defences.
He signed his first professional contract in 2010 on the back of a strong season for the U-18 squad, in which he scored 21 goals in 24 appearances. He then enjoyed a successful loan spell at Huddersfield where he 8 goals and provided 8 assists in all competitions. But he couldn’t push on after that, as he struggled with injuries for the first half of the 2011-12 season.
After recovering from those injuries, he joined Reading on loan in January 2012. Unfortunately, he only managed to make 3 appearances for the Royals up until the end of the season. This season was supposed to be a new start for Afobe.
With Robin van Persie gone, many believed Benik would be given a chance to showcase his talents during Arsenal’s pre-season tour. However this didn’t materialise and on 3 August, 2012 he joined Bolton on a season-long loan.
While at Bolton he made 20 appearances, but only managed to score 2 goals. So in January, Bolton decided to end his deal and he returned to Arsenal.
Millwall then took him on loan where he initially impressed, earning a man-of-the-match award in the 2-1 win away Middlesborough. Sadly, this spell was again disrupted by injury when he sustained a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament, which ruled him out for the remainder of the season, and he has returned back to Arsenal.
So what does this mean for Benik Afobe’s Arsenal career?
Well, there is no doubting that he has talent, having shown it at the club and international level. With his pace, power and versatility, he would be a useful player to have in any squad.
A full pre-season is key for the Arsenal staff to check on his development and for him to get some vital minutes under his belt. I then expect him to be sent out on loan to a mid/lower Championship side where he can get regular game time and attain vital first team experience.
Let’s hope Benik can get over his injury problems so he can develop into a good footballer, and with some luck, be a regular at Arsenal.