Wycombe star shows Arsenal & Liverpool what they are missing
Two years is a long time in football.
Two years ago, Manchester United were closing in on another Premier League title, in a campaign in which they finished 11 points clear of the chasing pack.
Today, they sit fourth in the standings and just a point ahead of Southampton.
But though so much in the Premier League has changed over the last 24 months, Arsenal’s commitment to unearthing young talent remains as strong as ever.
Perhaps that’s why Fred Onyedinma may not have given up hope of earning a move to the north London club.
Two years ago the Gunners were one of three Premier League sides linked with a move for the then-16-year-old forward, who had caught the eye as a youngster at Millwall.
Liverpool and Manchester City were also thought to be keen on landing the Nigeria-born attacker with all three sending scouts to watch Onyedinma in action against Brighton for the under-21s.
(Here’s a video of him in action for Millwall under-18s in an FA Youth Cup third round tie against Bradford with the Lions winning 3-0 and the young striker among the scorers.)
But for whatever reason, the youngster remained at the New Den, eventually making his first-team debut in an FA Cup third round tie against Southend.
Millwall lost the game 4-1 but better things were to come on his full Championship debut against local London rivals Charlton with Onyedinma earning the Man of the Match Award for his efforts.
However, injuries and a lack of regular playing time over the next two campaigns saw the forward struggle to find the kind of consistency required to warrant further inquiries from Arsenal or any other Premier League suitor.
But after moving to League Two promotion chasers Wycombe, on loan, things could be about to change.
Picked up by Gareth Ainsworth as part of the deal that saw the Chairboys lose arguably their best attacking asset in Paris Cowan-Hall to the Lions, Onyedinma has been nothing short of a revelation.
Skilful and with pace to burn, the 18-year-old has also shown himself to be equally adept at finishing off chances and has weighed in with a few headers to help reinvigorate Wycombe’s promotion charge.
In 12 League Two appearances, Onyedinma has scored eight times and was on target in this week’s crucial 2-1 victory over Tranmere – a result that leaves the Chairboys five points clear of their nearest rivals in the battle to land the third and final automatic promotion place.
Likely to head back to Millwall in the summer, the forward has certainly shown he warrants an extended run in the first team with the Lions teetering on the brink of Championship extinction.
Whether it is with the south east London outfit, or perhaps another club like Arsenal, recruiting the youngster could prove an inexpensive gamble for a club willing to take a chance on young English talent.
Who knows where he will be in 2017 – two years is a long time in football after all.
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