Arsenal currently boast the youngest squad in the Premier League and Ethan Nwaneri looks like their next star in making after some notable performances of late.
Mikel Arteta has done a fine job at the Emirates so far and his success has largely been built upon the development of youngsters at the club.
The Spanish manager clearly sees the potential in Nwaneri as he handed him his first team debut earlier in the season. Aged 15, he became the youngest-ever player to appear in the Premier League after a late cameo against Brentford.
“It was a feeling that I had yesterday, I don’t know why,” Arteta told the club website after handing Nwaneri his debut back in September.
“The first day I met him I looked him in his eyes and everyone was telling me about him, Per [Mertesacker] was telling me about him, and because of the injuries we only have 12 or 13 senior players yesterday to put in the squad and we decided to bring him, and that’s it.
“It’s one step, one experience, so enjoy it and congratulations!”
The Arsenal midfielder has been playing above his age group for the majority of his career. He joined Arsenal aged nine and was already playing for the Under-18s by the time he was 14.
His international career has taken off in that time too and he is now a regular for the England Under-17s. His latest displays on international duty reminded us all of the talent he possesses.
Nwaneri scored a brace against Denmark and Northern Ireland in the latest round of international fixtures. His first goal against Denmark showcased just what he is about.
After picking up the ball on the edge of the box, he brilliantly everts a challenge from a defender and sits him down in the process. The finish isn’t too shabby either.
Ethan Nwaneri with an incredible 2 goal performance for England U17. The first goal shows just how incredible his balance and technique are. Amazing at this age he already looks a level above the rest.
— Hale End Productions (@Balogunner14) March 23, 2023
His impressive performances didn’t end there though as he then stole the show in his next game against Northern Ireland. Playing with a similar swagger, you can tell he is brimming with confidence right now.
The youngster’s first goal against Northern Ireland was the pick of the bunch. With the ball at his feet on the edge of the box, he is surrounded by green shirts who are rapidly closing down his angle to shoot.
Nwaneri isn’t a player who wilts under the pressure. If anything he seems to thrive off it. Like a master escape artist, Nwaneri always finds a way to wriggle out of trouble.
He finishes the move with the cheekiest of finishes as he lofts the ball away from the goalkeeper’s grasp. There’s no doubt that Arsenal have a star in the making here.
— Hale End Productions Video (@HEPVideos) March 26, 2023
Nwaneri is also developing in the perfect environment, with Jack Wilshere currently running Arsenal’s Under-18 academy. He knows just what it takes to make the step up from youth football to the next level.
The 16-year-old has attracted interest from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, but Wilshere is hopeful that he will be sticking around in North London for the foreseeable future.
“We all hope he stays because he’s an exceptional talent,” Wilshere told talkSPORT.
“As coaches, we don’t get involved and we don’t talk about that. I think we have to make it clear we don’t talk about that. That’s nothing. Our job is to develop Ethan to help him when he goes with the first team.”
The attacking midfielder has scored four goals for Arsenal’s Under-18s this season, as well as providing four assists. If he continues to develop at his current rate, he’ll be a Premier League star in no time.
By Ben Stewart.