Left field

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Bad boy coming of age as Bendtner buries Liverpool

March 11, 2012

By Phil O’Connor

A contract running out, in trouble over drunken behaviour and a country qualified for Euro 2012 – whatever one thinks of Sunderland’s on-loan Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, his life is far from boring.

With the clock ticking down on an Arsenal deal that is highly unlikely to be renewed, Bendtner hit the headlines this weekend as he struck his second goal in two games to all but end Liverpool’s hopes of a shot at next year’s Champions League.

His success, while wearing a face mask,  in the 1-0 win makes something of a pleasant change. Signed by Arsenal at 17, Bendtner has too often wound up in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons.

But things might be changing – after a recent arrest for damaging cars whilst on a night out with team mates, he issued an apology to fans via a Danish newspaper and promised to concentrate “only on football” in future.

When Bendtner spoke to Reuters recently as he joined the Denmark squad for the friendly against Russia, he was philosophical about his future.

He said he was looking forward to seeing his friend Andrei Arshavin – who had also recently left Arsenal to rejoin Zenit St Petersburg on loan – and that he could consider continuing his career in Russia.

Under it all, the affable forward gave the impression that there would be some regrets on the day he does finally leave Arsenal. Despite some hard words between the club and the player in the past, he clearly has a lot of love for the club.

Bendtner will be hoping the knee injury sustained against Liverpool which led to him being stretchered off in the second half, turns out to be not too serious.

These next few months will be important in deciding his future and his performances for Sunderland and for Denmark at Euro 2012 will play a big part in deciding where his next club will be. His actions off the pitch will receive almost as much scrutiny.

He has never been a prolific goalscorer, averaging roughly a goal every four games for his club sides, one in three for his national team. But it his aerial and technical ability that are his greatest assets and Denmark will be hoping that he can keep the German, Dutch and Portugese defences occupied in June.

A full international at the age of 18 and a prodigious talent blessed with massive self-confidence, it’s hard to believe that Bendtner is still only 24. While the next contract he signs may not be his last in top-flight football, it will certainly be one of the most important.

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