SUNDERLAND loan signing Nicklas Bendtner either has very high hopes for the Black Cats or he sees his short spell at the club as a stepping stone for higher things.
The 23-year-old striker arrived on Wearside as last month’s transfer window was about to close, to bolster Sunderland’s striking options.
Following Asamoah Gyan’s departure, two days after the Ghana international told Black Cats boss Steve Bruce he was staying, Bendtner has been left to play the role as the team’s chief striker.
The Danish international had high hopes of leading the Arsenal forward line not so long ago but had fallen under Gunners manager Arsene Wenger’s radar. However, one thing he did get in North London was a taste of the high life – in particular, the Champions League.
And while he is open about wanting to return on that glamorous stage, Bendtner is not entirely restricting his options should things go well here – particularly when playing under one of his favourite managers.
“My ambition is to play Champions League,” he said. “I have said that from the start, so I want to achieve and strive for that. But you never know what will happen in the future and being here is a great opportunity. I only really look one year ahead, and I am going to spend the year here.
“I want to do well personally and the team to do well. A lot of things happened and a lot of things were said but at the moment I am focussed on doing well here, and we will see next season.
“One thing is for sure – I want to play football and I don’t want to do what I was doing before.
“It is nice (to be reunited with Steve Bruce). I know a lot of the staff and some of the players from before. It is always good coming to a new club when you know the people.
“He has been an important influence on my career and is a big reason why I came here. When I went to Birmingham, I think I was 18, we had a great season.
“We got promoted and I still think that was one of my best seasons to date. I sort of want to get that back and achieve the things we did there and to do really well in the league, and from there go on and progress.
“It is nice to hear when a manager has confidence in you, and what happened to Danny Welbeck here was a fantastic story. He came here, did really well and has started doing well for Manchester United. If I can do similar, that will be good for me.”
Should things go very well for both player and club from here on in, Bendtner might be persuaded to swap the Champions League for the Europa League – something he believes Sunderland can make.
He added: “That is one of the reasons I came here. This is a team which can be in the top six. I think there are six teams up there now. This is a team just under them, which could compete and play well in those games.
“That is one of the reasons I came here, because I had that feeling and felt that ambition from the club. I want to be a prolific goalscorer, and scoring a goal a game is something I want to achieve.
“As a striker it is important to score goals. One of my ambitions is to be the top scorer in the Premier League one day, and to get there you need to do those sort of things.
“I just want to come here and play games and do well. I think I have come to a good team with good players and good staff. It is a team capable of achieving something big and I want to be part of it, so this is a great opportunity for me to get that run of games and hopefully do well.”
With Stoke in town tomorrow, all eyes will be on Bendtner to see if he can erase the memory of Gyan (pictured right) and give the Cats faithful a new striking hero to sing the praises of.
He continued: “Yes he (Gyan) went but I think we should focus on the current squad. We have a lot of good players.
“I haven’t played with anyone up front yet. But I am sure whoever I play with they will do a good job, because in training they show their ability.
“Stoke are doing really well they have some good players. It will be a challenge but we want to win at home.”