Arsenal's forward line is well known for its trickery and cunning intelligence, however, somewhere beneath this hub of creativity there is always a sinking feeling the position of the central striker is not always as convincing, this poses the question why was a striker with natural goal-scoring ability was allowed to leave the club permanently.
Benik Afobe started the 2014/15 season Arsenal player, it was decided the striker would get one last chance out on loan to try and prove himself ready for a spot in Arsene Wenger's first team squad. Two clubs and 32 goals later Afobe is no longer on Arsenal's books. With recent reports revealing Arsenal let Harry Kane go at a young age, only for him to resurface at Spurs and score against Arsenal, could this decision come back to haunt the Gunners just as Kane did?
The English striker's finishing ability had been evident from a young age, his goals were prominent in his rise through Arsenal's youth system. However his progression was often stunted by serious injuries in the moments when he was looking to break into the first team. Its safe to assume if not for injuries Benik would have made his debut for Arsenal and his career could of gone differently.
Afobe signed professional terms with Arsenal in early 2010, rumours circulated at the time that Barcelona were looking to steal Afobe and fellow trainee Chuks Aneke in retaliation of Arsenal's purchases of La Masia graduates, Fabregas, Bellerin and Toral. Aneke and Afobe developed an almost telepathic relationship having played in the same team together since the age 7. This crop of youngsters produced the likes of Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshire.
In 2011 Benik had a promising loan spell at Huddersfield Town under Lee Clark, however the next 3 years were blighted by injuries and unsuccessful spells on loan at Reading, Bolton, Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall. It wasn't until his loan to MK Dons that he began to find consistency in his fitness, Afobe began scoring goals for fun, bagging 19 in all competitions and his reputation began to swell. The deal with the dons was cut short in January 2015 with Afobe expected to go to a Championship team on another loan, before returning to Arsenal in the summer, however the 32 goal-hit man was sold for an undisclosed fee to Wolves. So what made Arsene Wenger sell Afobe after the 22-year-old had shown so much promise?
One explanation is the emergence at Arsenal of Chuba Akpom, who was understudy to Benik at one point. Akpom boasts a similar goal-scoring record to Benik at Youth level but has already made his debut for Arsenal, Chuba is similar to Benik in qualities, both instinctive finishers with pace to burn. Arsenal will hope Chuba has better luck with injuries and is able to progress without spending so many loan spells away from the club.
The most likely scenario is Wenger putting his players' welfare first, knowing that putting Benik on the Arsenal bench would likely derail the momentum he has built up, instead choosing to set Afobe free to build a future at a club where he is guaranteed playing time. The Wolves deal was an undisclosed fee but its likely to include performance related payments and sell on fee's that could see Arsenal profit on the deal for years to come. Do not be surprised to see the name of Benik Afobe lighting up the Premiership in the coming years, he has the abilities and the experience now to progress his career, whether Arsenal were right or wrong to sell him time will tell, but one thing is for sure is whether he gains promotion with Wolves or signs for a premiership club its going to hurt if he scores against Arsenal.