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Onyekuru not prepared to be a bench player

Henry Onyekuru, one of Nigeria's top goal-scorers in Europe, was left off the national squad for the May 26 friendly against Corsica.
Henry Onyekuru, one of Nigeria's top goal-scorers in Europe, was left off the national squad for the May 26 friendly against Corsica.

Arsenal target Henry Onyekuru says his next club destination will be determined by how much playing time he will get.

Onyekuru, 20, finished joint-top scorer in the Belgian league last season, despite it being his first season with KAS Eupen as they finished fourth from bottom.

His red-hot form has made him one of the most sought-after players in Europe, but Onyekuru says his first priority is playing time.

"The first and most important thing for a player is to get playing time," Onyekuru tells KweséESPN.

"I'm still young and I still have a long career to pursue but now I need to play.

"My agents are in talks with top clubs in the Premier League, Bundesliga, French league and others. If they accept our terms, then I'll make a decision.

"It's not just about going to a big club and sitting on the bench. It's not good for me, or being loaned to a club where I won't play or where I will struggle to play.

"The money can come later but for now, I just want to play to improve, not just to play for a big club," he explains.

Onyekuru, a self-confessed Arsenal fan, added that he would also like to join a club where he can challenge for, and win, trophies, not fight against relegation.

He says: "It was very hard for me last season in Belgium because we just got promoted and our first objective was to stay in the league.

"Sometimes I would score two goals and we would end up losing the game. That was tough for me. It was just God's favor that helped me because finishing 13th in the league but emerging joint top scorer was just amazing.

"So I won't like to go to a club where I will fight again just to stay in the league. I want to win trophies and if I can win trophies at my age, it will be good for me."

A whirlwind season also culminated in his getting a call up to the senior Nigeria squad, where he hopes to emulate his idol, former Arsenal star Nwankwo Kanu.

The striker added: "I used to watch [Kanu] a lot when he played for Nigeria and also Arsenal because I have been an Arsenal fan since [then], and I like the way he plays more with his head and not his strength."

There is another Arsenal connection for Onyekuru in the Nigeria squad in Alex Iwobi, who was reported to have weighed in about attracting the young striker to London.

Onyekuru says he was surprised to read the reports: "I saw that in the news and I was surprised. I didn't talk to Iwobi about anything."

As the Super Eagles prepare to face off against South Africa in a 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday, the forward is confident that Gernot Rohr's young lads will triumph.

Onyekuru says: "The fact that the coach has never lost with Nigeria is part of what is giving us confidence and increasing our morale that we can't lose.

"I believe with the team we have and the team spirit we have we will come out victorious against South Africa. It won't be easy, but with the fans supporting us, we will come out victorious."

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