Arsenal signed Nicklas Bendtner in 2004 when he was only 16 years of age. In the 2004/2005 season, he formed a prolific strike partnership with other promising talent Arturo Lupoli in the reserves. He had loan moves to Birmingham City, Sunderland and Juventus with varying success.
He’s never been the most prolific striker at the top level, but he is not short of self-confidence. At senior level his record is roughly 1 goal scored every 4 games (well, 3.66 to be exact) while at national level it is pretty impressive, having scored 22 goals in 55 appearances.
So what happened? At 25 years of age, he is hardly damaged goods, and if you look back at his goals for Arsenal the signs are there that he has talent. But as we all know too well with football, talent can only get you so far.
He’s damaged parked cars while on a night out with his team-mates at Sunderland, there was a fight at a Newcastle hotel, he famously walked out of a night club with his pants down and he has been done for drink-driving. He also showed off his PaddyPower boxer shorts while on national duty in Euro 2012.
He seems destined (unless he has a personality transplant) to join the ranks of players who have great potential but for one reason or another, end up with a disappointing career. Specific names that spring to mind include David Bentley, Jermaine Pennant, Anthony Stokes, Jay Simpson, Armand Traore and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Not quite fading into obscurity into the 3rd or 4th tier of football competitions, but maybe playing for teams lower in the top league or in the 2nd tier.
At 25 years of age, this really is make or break time for Bendtner. He is still young enough to make a really good career for himself, and has yet to reach his peak age of 27/28. But at the same time, from his Twitter and other social media accounts, it seems that fame and fortune is more important than getting his head down and performing well on the pitch. It may be an unfair assumption, but his career to date reflect this. He is young, sure of himself and it would be fair to say he may not be the best at taking advice or criticism.
The regret for Arsenal was he had the potential (and that’s the key word) to do well at Arsenal. His most productive season for us was in 2008-2009, after which main striker Emmanuel Adebayor left. This was probably the time for him to come to the fore if he was ever going to make it at Arsenal, but having a serious car accident at the start of the 2009-2010 season didn’t help matters. After that, his Arsenal career stuttered and he’s been on the outside looking in ever since.
You can’t accuse Arsene Wenger of not giving him chances. He’s made close to 160 appearances for Arsenal in the 5 seasons he’s been in our squad (and not on loan) and despite showing glimpses of promise, just hasn’t delivered.
Wherever Nicklas Bendtner ends up, I wish him luck.