Swapping the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta for the more prosaic qualities of Leigh Sports Village in Lancashire is quite a leap. But for Thomas Eisfeld, both venues are equally important steps on the same journey.
The German midfielder has made quite an impression since his arrival in January 2012, not least on this summer’s tour to Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan. His goalscoring exploits for the under-21s had already got supporters talking - and Eisfeld underlined his vast potential in the Far East.
"We play football to try to make it into the first team one day. When you see how crazy the fans are over there, it increases that motivation"
The pick of his displays was probably his goalscoring performance against the Indonesia Dream Team, in front of more than 60,000 fervent fans in Jakarta. It was a classic Eisfeld strike, the midfielder timing his run into the box perfectly to reach Olivier Giroud’s cushioned header before blasting the ball into the roof of the net.
The 19-year-old’s encouraging form has continued since touching down in the UK. In the under-21s’ season opener at Stoke City on August 19, Eisfeld first arrowed in a shot off the stanchion before lifting a superb second into the top corner from the edge of the box.
On Friday night, he hopes to prove he is ready for the next step by helping Steve Gatting’s side beat Blackburn. It may be a long way from the excitement of the Far East, but Eisfeld is determined to take another opportunity to stake his claim.
“The tour was really fun and the trip showed us how many fans we have all over the world,” he told Arsenal.com. “For us young players, it was an amazing experience.
“We play football to try to make it into the first team one day. When you see how crazy the fans are over there, it increases that motivation. That's the big aim.
“It was a great experience to score against Indonesia in front of all those fans. That's what I'm there to do.
"If the boss calls me up to the first team, that would be great. But all I can do is perform well on the pitch"
“Scoring goals is one of my strengths - I try to integrate that into the team and it also went well against Stoke, where I scored twice. Hopefully I can carry on doing it.”
Gatting’s side is stocked with highly-promising youngsters, but as one of the more senior members Eisfeld knows he has an important role to play.
“I'm one of the oldest now and have been playing with a few 16 and 17-year-olds,” he said. “Two years ago, that was me. Now I'm one of the oldest and I know I have a bit more responsibility.
“For example, I spoke to Leander [Siemann] at half-time in the Stoke game. I told him to have more self-belief and I think he displayed that in the second half.
“I'm just trying to give my best every day. If the boss calls me up to the first team, that would be great. But all I can do is perform well on the pitch.”
- We will have live tweets from the under-21s’ game at Blackburn on the @ArsenalLive account from 6.55pm (UK time)
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