Hale End academy star Nwaneri made history as the youngest-ever player to feature in the Premier League last weekend after replacing summer signing Fabio Vieira for the final moments of a 3-0 win over London rivals Brentford - a sixth victory from seven games so far this season that took Mikel Arteta’s high-flying side into the international break sitting top of the table.
Aged just 15 years and 181 days, he comfortably broke the previous record held by Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott, who had first appeared in the top-flight for Fulham in 2019 aged 16 years and 30 days.
Schoolboy midfielder Nwaneri - born in 2007 - has been subject to huge praise at Arsenal amid much excitement about his potential, though others have criticised Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta for throwing the England Under-17 international into the spotlight too soon despite injuries to the likes of club captain Martin Odegaard, Mohamed Elneny and Emile Smith Rowe.
Former England and Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand has significantly added to the growing hype around the teenager, insisting that he is already being talked about in the same breath as Manchester City star Foden, who burst onto the scene at the Etihad as a gifted 17-year-old and quickly established himself as a key figure for both club and country, twice winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award and appearing 16 times for the Three Lions at senior level.
“There’s no doubting this kid’s ability, I’ve heard from coaches that are at the club and from various different people in the game at that level that there aren’t many 15-year-olds in the last 10 or so years that have got the ability that this guy’s shown on a consistent basis,” Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel.
“We are talking the Fodens of this world. At 15, he’s at a similar level they’re talking.”
Explaining his decision to include Nwaneri in the squad for Brentford, Arsenal boss Arteta said: “It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy (and) really liked what I saw.
“Per Mertesacker and the academy staff are giving me really good information, Edu as well. I met him, he’s trained a couple of times with us.
“Yesterday he had to come because we have injuries, especially the injury of Martin (Odegaard), and then I had that feeling from yesterday that if the opportunity could come that I was going to do it and I just done it.
“It’s great. He deserves it. He has been doing great. He is such a big talent we want to keep with us.”