Chuba Akpom was once Arsenal's most exciting prodigy but is now fighting to start for PAOK against Chelsea in the Europa League

Chuba Akpom, once regarded as a future Arsenal star, has wound up playing for PAOK FC in the Greek Super-league.

It was only four years ago that Arsene Wenger, the then all-powerful Gunners boss, was explaining just how impressed he had been with Akpom.

"Close to the first team," Wenger said of the forward, after naming him in the match-day squad for a Champions League game against Galatasaray.

It was high praise, indeed, as Arsenal boasted an attacking force comprised of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Lukas Podolski back then.

So, is the story of Akpom's fall from the cusp of Emirates super-stardom to playing in the coastal town of Thessaloniki a classic Greek tragedy?



Ruben Loftus-Cheek may not think so if the exciting young Chelsea midfielder is not given an opportunity at PAOK's 29,000-seater stadium tonight.

But it may prove to be a wise decision from London-born Akpom to head abroad in search of first-team football.

He had been one of the most exciting young prospects at Arsenal after the free-scoring forward made his debut for the under-18 side aged just 15.

But Akpom, 22, is now part of a team competing for a title, which is something that has become a mere aspiration at the Emirates these days.


In four years at Arsenal, Akpom was sent on loan six times.

These nomadic years took him from Brentford to Brighton and Hull to Limburg in Belgium.

Only at the KCOM Stadium did Akpom get any significant game time, with the pacy forward a regular in Steve Bruce's promotion-winning season.

That season earned him his first England under-21 cap.




But this summer, after 16 years at Arsenal, Akpom secured a permanent move out of North London having made just 12 first-team appearances.

A short statement from Arsenal said: "We wish Chuba the best of luck with PAOK."

So far, he has featured in two of their three Super-league games as a substitute.

Akpom will be hoping to kick-start his career in Greece with a start against the Premier League's lead leaders.

 

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