December 11, 2017

The Curious Case of Nicklas Bendtner

The often maligned and mocked striker Nicklas Bendtner has signed a 3 year deal with the often mocked VfL Wolfsburg. One is seen as a “plastic” footballer and the other is seen as a “plastic” football team. It almost seems like Bendtner and Wolfsburg were meant to be together, a bit like Dimitar Berbatov and AS Monaco.

Normally this is a deal that I’d look at, laugh at, and get on with my day. But something interested me about this transfer, and that interest grew with this statement from Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking:

Nicklas fits the profile of forward this club is looking for. Although his career has not always gone smoothly, he’s still been able to gain plenty of experience

Basically, he was available on a free transfer after being released by Arsenal and has kind of winged it so far. But where did it all go wrong for Nicklas Bendtner?

He played solidly in the Arsenal reserves, has shown glimpses of talent in the Arsenal first team and has a very respectable goal scoring record for Denmark national team with 28 goals in 54 appearances. Even his loan spell at Birmingham in 2006 went okay considering he was young and was linked with both Olympique Lyonnais and AC Milan in 2008 when both were last at the peak of their respective powers. And, of course, Nicklas is now technically classed as a Scudetto winner after his loan spell at Juventus.

Nicklas’ main problem has always been his attitude. He had the infamous on-pitch bust-up with Emmanuel Adebayor during a League Cup semi final against rivals Tottenham and was leaving a nightclub with his jeans pulled down just hours after Arsenal were beaten by Manchester United in a first leg Champions League semi-final. And that’s just his problems at Arsenal…

Not the most ideal behaviour from a man who believes that he is someday destined for the dizzying heights of the Santiago Bernabéu or the Nou Camp.

Instead he’ll now have to make do with the Volkswagen Arena. Wolfsburg are a top 6 Bundesliga team and are going from strength-to-strength each season.  It looks like there could be a role for Bendtner on Hecking’s squad. Last season Wolfsburg relied on Croatian duo Ivica Olić and Ivan Perišić for goals with striker Bas Dost only making 13 appearances, so Wolfsburg’s need for squad depth becomes vital as they hope to mount a convincing challenge in the Pokal, Europa League and Bundesliga.

One would assume that this is make or break time for Nicklas Bendtner. He’s 26 years old, isn’t getting any younger and his off-field problems made it difficult for any team to take a punt on him. I’m not going to resort to tired old clichés about “German discipline” and knuckling down, but I do hope that Nicklas takes advantage of this clean slate he’s been given.

Wolfsburg paid nothing for him, so in that sense they can’t really lose out on this deal (unless you add self respect to the equation). They’ve added depth to their squad by getting a player who can score in the big games, can be a handful in the box and they’ve not got nearly as much pressure on them to end a trophy drought as Arsenal did.

In a way I hope that they’ve picked up the Nicklas Bendtner that has something to prove to himself and fans everywhere and not the Lord Bendtner caricature that we love to joke about. Without any intended disrespect, Wolfsburg are a quality club but a step down from Arsenal (at least in terms of tradition and reputation), and that could be exactly what Nicklas Bendtner needs to revive his career.

Also, just a word of advice for Coach Hecking:
Keep him AWAY from taxis.

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Rhys is a Broadcasting, Journalism and Screen Studies who is not quite the master of his domain. Born in Germany, learning German but not actually German, I take a keen interest in world cinema, Mexican food and Schalke 04.

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