The Bendtner conundrum

AP

Good in the air, good touch and good technique — Nicklas Bendtner has all the attributes of a Wenger player. However, one big question mark is his attitude, writes Alex Brooker.

Enigmatic, flamboyant and arrogant — Nicklas Bendtner is much maligned by some sections of the media but he is fast becoming a vital cog in Arsene Wenger's well-oiled Arsenal machine.

There is arguably no better judge of talent in world football than Wenger and the Frenchman has shown unwavering faith in Bendtner since bringing him to the club's youth academy in 2004.

Bendtner made a quick impression in the Gunners' reserves and in typical Wenger-fashion, was given his first-team debut in an English League Cup clash with Sunderland in 2005.

Wenger is a master in developing promising talent and Bendtner was sent out loan to Birmingham for the championship in the 2006/2007 season.

It proved to be another masterstroke as the Dane blossomed at St Andrews, helping the club get promotion back to the EPL and developing his game in the process.

Bendtner's first full season was one of mixed fortunes and nothing illustrated this more so than the two clashes with Tottenham.

The Dane grabbed his first League goal just seconds after coming on as a substitute to give the Gunners a 2-1 win over their rivals in December 2007. However, the League Cup semi-final second leg was a game he will be keen to forget.

With the Gunners 1-4 down and on their way out of the competition, Bendtner had an on-pitch row with team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor and the pair had to be separated.

However, since that game he has rarely looked back and despite spending most of last season playing on the flank, the 22-year-old has occupied a more favoured central role during the current campaign.

The 2009/2010 season has been arguably Bendtner's finest in an Arsenal shirt and he has led the line admirably in the absence of Robin van Persie and also helped Denmark reach this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Good in the air, good touch and good technique — Bendtner has all the attributes of a Wenger player. However, one big question mark is his attitude.

Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Bendtner is a fan of an outlandish statement and even claimed he will be the best player in the world one day.

Off the field Bendtner has also been prone to the odd indiscretion which has frustrated his manager on many an occasion.

After the Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester United last season, Bendtner was photographed leaving a nightclub worse for wear and with his trousers round his ankles.

Bendtner apologised for his actions, but they did not endear him to Wenger or the Arsenal fans.

Five months later he was lucky to escape serious injury after smashing his Aston Martin on the A1.

Bendtner certainly does not do things by halves and is undoubtedly a better player when he concentrates on his football. And with a multi-millionaire Danish royal girlfriend Baroness Caroline Luel-Brockdorff in tow, Bendtner is unlikely to leave his lavish playboy lifestyle anytime soon.

However, he has shown with his performances this season that Wenger was right to show faith in his ability.

Arsenal fans were crying out for the Frenchman to buy a striker during the January transfer window but he resisted and Bendtner has returned with a tally of 12 goals this season.

His swagger on the pitch may not be everyone's cup of tea but, at the age of only 22, Bendtner's future is set to be as bright as his boots.

FACTFILE Name: Nicklas Bendtner Position: Striker Club: Arsenal D.O.B: 16/01/1988 Denmark Caps: 32 Denmark Goals: 11 Denmark Debut: v Poland, August 2006.

Moment to remember Bendtner grabbed his first hat-trick for the Gunners in the resounding 5-0 Champions League first round second-leg victory over Porto in March.

Moment to forget Bendtner got into a scuffle with then team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor during Arsenal's League Cup semi-final defeat to rivals Tottenham in 2008.

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