When Eddie Nketiah put pen to paper on a season-long loan at Leeds United it was anticipated that he would become a shrewd Marcelo Bielsa signing.

The England under-21 star arrived in West Yorkshire as one of the brightest young talents in the country; with the Whites feeling like they had pulled off a real coup.

It is perhaps a mystery then why just six months later, Nketiah was on his way back down the M1, returning to Arsenal after just two league starts for the Whites.

The 21-year-old was forced to play second fiddle to Patrick Bamford during the first half of the campaign. Despite Bielsa having the freedom of Leeds in the eyes of supporters, the Nketiah conundrum will remain a mystery.

Arsenal's English striker Eddie Nketiah crosses the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s English striker Eddie Nketiah crosses the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Leeds do sit top of the Championship as football prepares to return. It’s fair to say that after years of managing at the top of world football, Bielsa knows what he’s doing.

Despite the Yorkshiremen sitting on the cusp of promotion to the Premier League, however, something doesn’t feel right regarding Nketiah’s time at Elland Road.

Bielsa can be a stubborn so-and-so. Certainly, with his team selection, it’s fair to say that he isn’t one for chopping and changing his starting eleven.

Unfortunate

Bamford has 13 goals to his name this season and 10 of those coming when Nketiah was sat on the bench definitely didn’t help the youngster’s case for regular game time.

Over the weekend Arsenal took on Charlton as they stepped up their preparations to face Manchester City on June 17.

Nketiah, handed a chance to shine under Mikel Arteta, was in blistering form, netting a sublime hat-trick against the Championship strugglers.

A hat-trick in a friendly is hardly a deciding factor when it comes to determining whether Leeds made a mistake with the forward.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 06: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal during a friendly match between Arsenal and Charlton Athletic at Emirates Stadium on June 06, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 06: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal during a friendly match between Arsenal and Charlton Athletic at Emirates Stadium on June 06, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The fact it came against a second-tier outfit only serves to spark suggestions that he wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip at the promotion hopefuls.

Nketiah’s form back at the Emirates had been good too. Three goals in all competitions from just five starts will have surely earned him more chances under a prospect-friendly boss in Arteta.

It seems a fair suggestion that had Leeds preferred Nketiah over Bamford, they might well have been further ahead of third than the seven points they currently have.

Leeds won just one game in six in January and February and their season threatened to unravel again.

HULL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29:  Marcelo Bielsa the manager of Leeds United look on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Leeds United at KCOM Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Hull, England. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
HULL, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 29: Marcelo Bielsa the manager of Leeds United look on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Leeds United at KCOM Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Hull, England. (Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

When football returns, Bielsa will likely throw his trust in Bamford once more, with Jean-Kevin Augustin struggling for match fitness.

The ex-Middlesbrough man has scored just once in eight games and Leeds desperately need him to find his scoring boots.

Being handed the chance to sign a player wanted by probably a dozen second-tier clubs should have been a game-changer for Leeds.

Instead, he sat on the bench and provided outsiders looking in at Leeds with far more questions than answers.

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