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Arsenal wonderkid sends clear message about his future to Mikel Arteta

Ethan Nwaneri has been in fine form with the academy this season
-Credit: (Image: Visionhaus/Getty Images)


Arsenal are keen to further invest in their academy moving forward in Mikel Arteta’s tenure and youth star Ethan Nwaneri is the latest to show the talents that can be produced when the right resources are channelled.

The 17-year-old scored his 14th goal in 27 England under-17 caps on Monday night, getting the final goal in the team’s 3-1 win over Spain in the age group's European Championships. That was his second strike of the tournament, having scored in the opening 4-0 victory over France.

England have progressed through to the quarter-finals on Thursday, where they will play Italy and Nwaneri is a dead cert to start. The youngster is a versatile attacking option, able to play on the wing, as a striker and as a number 10.

He is being backed to follow in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah by making himself an Arsenal first-team squad regular in the coming years. Nwaneri has scored 18 goals in 20 academy games this season, also registering four assists.

The attacker has already made two senior appearances, first making his bow in a cameo against Brentford during a 3-0 win in September 2022. In doing so, he became the youngest ever player to feature in a top-flight fixture aged 15 years and 181 days.

He had to wait another 18 months for his next appearance but was afforded 13 minutes on the right flank in the 6-0 thrashing of West Ham this February. He has made the first-team squad on six occasions this season, including for the FA Cup third round defeat to Liverpool.

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Back in March, Nwaneri penned his first professional contract, having at that point netted 14 times in as many youth games. Including international matches, the starlet has recorded 24 goals and five assists in 30 games this season, excluding his first-team appearance.

He is sending two clear messages to Arteta. The first is that he should be given more first-team opportunities going forward despite his tender age. Saka made his debut at 17 and Smith Rowe at 18 - Nwaneri beat them both to his debut age-wise by a number of years.

The second message to Arteta says that it is right for Arsenal to plug more investment into the youth system. Nwaneri might be the leading breakthrough star among the current crop but in a few years’ time, there could be three or four Nwaneris coming through.

The future is bright for Arsenal but the Gunners must future-proof themselves to ensure the academy dynasties built up by the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United are matched in North London.