Ethan Nwaneri: The crazy dash to sign up Arsenal youngster
Nwaneri became the Premier League's youngest ever player aged 15 years and 181 days when he came on for Arsenal in their recent win over Brentford.
The young midfielder is unable to sign a professional contract due to his age, leaving him vulnerable to approaches from other clubs despite Arsenal being desperate to cling on to their bright prospect.
Nwaneri's sudden breakout has attracted 'a huge scramble among agents' according to The Mirror, with onlookers touting him as one of the finest talents to come out of Arsenal's fruitful youth academy.
Arsenal already lost teenager Omari Hutchinson to Chelsea in the summer and there is a hope that Nwaneri's debut would show him - and other youngsters - that there is a pathway to the first team should they stay with the club.
The England under-16 international is also being chased by the Nigerian national team, with the Super Eagles hoping to convince Nwaneri to represent them as he is eligible through his father.
Arsenal leading the way with youth in the Premier League
Arsenal have established themselves as one of the biggest producers of talents in recent years, with the Gunners squad having the lowest average age Premier League as well as the youngest manager in Mikel Arteta.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah have all established themselves as regular members of the Arsenal first team after coming through the academy.
“When he [Ethan Nwaneri] turned up for a trial to earn a school scholarship aged ten, the game had to be stopped and he was asked to leave the pitch as none of the other children attached to top-flight clubs could touch the ball.” [via @garyjacob] #afc pic.twitter.com/yXAc8GMMwn— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) September 19, 2022
Last season, Arsenal had 22 academy graduates playing in the Premier League, behind Manchester United (23) and Chelsea (27), although the Gunners had 11 of them on their books, more than any other side.
Arsenal also handed nearly 5000 minutes to players under the age of 21 last season, a Premier League high, with Saka featuring more for his team than any other player in Europe in his age bracket.
A shift towards younger players was a conscious one for Arsenal after they sold the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian, perhaps giving confidence to Nwaneri that his future is in good hands if he stays at the Emirates and 'trusts the process'.