Nicklas Bendtner has never made any secret of his intention to complete his loan spell at Birmingham City and then return to Arsenal to become a first-team regular.
But having watched the teenager tie Plymouth Argyle in knots for an hour-and-a-quarter in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at St Andrew's that sent Birmingham to the top of the Championship, his current club captain thinks he could do even better than that.
According to Stephen Clemence, not only could the mercurial Dane break into Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up, he could go on to become a Gunners legend. Clemence even compared the 18-year-old to Dennis Bergkamp — regarded by many observers as the best foreigner to play in this country.
Although Bendtner has yet to play a single match in the English top flight, the quality and maturity of his performances for Birmingham have been staggering. Never more so than against Argyle.
Not only did he score for the tenth time this season, with a sumptuous first touch and clinical finish, he was at the heart of everything that was good about Birmingham’s play, dropping off his marker to find space, freeing team-mates and constantly threatening Luke McCormick’s goal.
Clemence could not conceal his admiration and accepted comparisons with the former Holland superstar. "He has that physical presence and although people might not think it, Dennis Bergkamp was very strong especially when the ball was played into him with his back to goal," Clemence said.
"Nicklas is like that, too, he can also see a pass and has that same composure when he is on the ball. Obviously, it is a hell of a player to compare him to, he is still very young, but if he can keep improving why can’t he get to that level?"
Clemence also accepted the fact that as much as Bendtner's displays are helping Birmingham's promotion challenge at the moment, they are doing little to enhance the prospect of him staying at St Andrew’s beyond this season.
"If we go up, I am sure there will be every effort made to keep him but it might be very difficult to sort out because there will be a massive price tag on him," he said.
"He has got the ability to break into that Arsenal side and play for a top Premiership team. There are areas where he has got to improve, he will have to work on things if he is going to play regular Champions’ League football. He is only 18 and he has got a great chance of getting to the top."
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