Arsenal are at serious risk of losing teenage prospect Ethan Nwaneri, the youngest player in Premier League history, to one of their so-called “big six” rivals.
Nwaneri, an attacking midfielder, became Arsenal’s youngest-ever player earlier this season at 15 years and 181 days when he came off the bench in their 3-0 win at Brentford in September.
Nwaneri, who turns 16 later this month, is considered one of the most exciting young talents in English football and Telegraph Sport understands that he is the subject of great interest from some of Arsenal’s main rivals. Manchester City and Chelsea are understood to be among the Premier League clubs that have paid a lot of attention to Nwaneri’s development, although Arsenal have not yet given up hope of keeping him in north London.
Nwaneri became the first player under the age of 16 to play in the Premier League when Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta plucked him off the bench in September.
Arteta said his decision to select Nwaneri was based on “pure hunches”, adding: “I met the guy and I really liked what I saw. [Academy manager] Per Mertesacker and the academy staff also gave me very good information about him.
“It is another step, another experience. In your career all the steps will not be forward. After that, maybe I need three back to go another one up, but I also think it sends a very strong message about who we are as a club.”
Nwaneri is not the only highly regarded teenager in Arsenal’s youth ranks, with midfielder Myles Lewis-Skelly and winger Amario Cozier-Duberry also impressive. Arsenal are believed to have a deal with Lewis-Skelly that will keep the 16-year-old at the club for at least another two years. Like Nwaneri, Lewis-Skelly is an England youth international.
It would be a significant blow to Arsenal’s academy if they are unable to retain Nwaneri, having also lost talented winger Omari Hutchinson to Chelsea last year. The 19-year-old Hutchinson has made two first-team appearances under Graham Potter this season, both of which came against Manchester City.