It may not surprise you that Nicklas Bendtner finished top of Arsenal’s players when tested on self-perceived competence, scoring off the chart in fact. The Dane clearly rates his abilities, something that has often seen him garner castigation from those who believe him to be more beach donkey than blonde stallion.
Of course this was not always the case. A promising talent prized from Kjøbenhavns Boldklub, a 2nd division side based in Denmark’s national capital Copenhagen, he appeared the complete striker. After a solitary season with Arsenal’s first team he was given an opportunity to develop his talent at Birmingham City along with then teammate Sebastian Larsson.
The pair performed well, Bendtner netting eleven goals in forty-two appearances. A talent that had previously been confined to Youtube compilations was now displaying a delicate touch and technique. It seemed Arsene Wenger had uncovered another diamond. English fans gained their first glimpse of his true potential at Elland Road in a game against Leeds United.
The goal capped what was an impressive season for Bendtner. The month prior had seen him called up for his first full intentional cap at 18, making him the seventh youngest selection in the country’s history. With such early promise it’s difficult to pinpoint just where it all went wrong, so wrong in fact that he currently finds himself on the list of disposable assets at the Emirates.
Raising yourself above the parapet with statements perceived as arrogant will rarely aid matters. Nor will pink football boots, unless they are preceded by at least fifteen goals or a reel of highlights. However, it’s worth remembering that much of Bendtner’s football at Arsenal has involved him coming from the substitute bench.
In the instances where starts have been given, stats would suggest he has performed. In the 08-09 season seventeen starts returned nine goals. His one in four record for Arsenal also carries over internationally, where Bendtner is key part of Denmark’s set-up. His goal against Portugal in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers further proved that the 23-year old is not bereft of his early promise.
Tuesday’s Champions League qualifier with Udinese again saw Wenger choosing to ignore him. While an inclusion was unlikely to be a lifeline to his Arsenal career, it could easily have served as a potential shop window demonstration for those considering taking a gamble on the striker. With Bendtner even unable to gain a substitute appearance, the connotations are, he is most definitely surplus to requirements. A damming inditement, when you consider the mediocrity of a performance that Maroune Chamakh gave. Of course it could easily be argued that he was in fact protecting the investment as a debut in this year's competition would rule him ineligible for the competition elsewhere.
Potential suitors have been quoted at £11m, with Qatari owned PSG the latest club to be linked with a move, while Hamburg, Dortmund, Stoke and Newcastle all rumored to be considering him. To date however that’s all they are, rumors. With Bendtner currently in a state of limbo his Father, who also represents him will be hoping for a resolution promptly, which may require some negotiation from Arsenal, involving a comedown in price and possibly Bendtner’s wages.
This is all unlikely to bother the unflappable Dane. Having stated he will become one of the worlds best, time is on his side, and while he may never quite reach the upper echelons he predicts. I believe Wenger could well rue letting him go, when so few like replacements are available.