EDDIE NKETIAH revealed just how close he came to quitting Arsenal this summer before a dramatic late change of heart.
The England Under-21 striker was fed up at a lack of starting opportunities and looked set to leave as a free agent.
But after playing second fiddle to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for most of last season, a late run of goals convinced him he could still be a major player at the Emirates.
Now he is eager to strike up a dynamic partnership with £45million Gabriel Jesus having signed a new five-year contract worth £100,000 a week.
Nketiah, 23, explained: “When you’re in the final few months of your contract, you have to weigh up your options and I had a lot of offers from teams.
“I wanted to wait until the end of the season before making any decisions and sat down with my agents, family and the manager to consider everything.
“Obviously I didn’t know who the club were going to be signing. The only thing I focused on was myself and the chances I was going to get.
“But I was made aware that I would get chances to play at Arsenal and felt it was a great environment for me to develop, succeed and help the team.
“I have always supported Arsenal and we all felt that this was the best place for me.
“So I’m really happy with my decision and I’m looking forward to the future. It’s a great project and I hope I can contribute.”
Having waited until the final month of last season to start a Premier League game, Nketiah then hit five goals in Arsenal’s final seven games.
And the livewire forward confirmed his finisher’s instincts with an opportunistic goal in Wednesday’s 3-1 win against Orlando City on their tour.
So rather than worrying the arrival of Brazilian ace Jesus from Manchester City could put him back on the bench, Nketiah is confident they can become a dynamic duo up front.
Nketiah, who did his famous phone call celebration with Jesus after scoring, said: “We’ve shown we can play together.
“It’s also good that we have a common goal celebration that we shared on Wednesday and hopefully we can continue to link up and perform like that.
“Gabby has shown at City what a good player he is.
“He adds that energy up front with his pressing and that’s the style the manager wants from us.
“Obviously I like to play in the middle — but I can play on the left as well and I’m just happy to be on the pitch.”
And Nketiah said: “The players we’ve signed are really going to help us so now it’s about everyone contributing to having a good season.”
One of the perks of his new contract is the opportunity to wear the No 14 shirt made famous by Thierry Henry.
Nketiah added: “It’s a really special number at Arsenal and I’m looking forward to creating my own memories in this shirt.”