Mikel Arteta says he thinks Ethan Nwaneri “has something special” after the Arsenal starlet’s record-breaking Premier League debut.
Nwaneri was a late substitute in the Gunners’ 3-0 win at Brentford, and in doing so he broke the record for youngest player in the Premier League.
At 15 years and 181 days, Nwaneri beat former record holder Harvey Elliott, who was 16 years and 30 days old on his Premier League debut for Fulham in May 2019.
Although this was one appearance for Nwaneri, Arteta suggested there was a lot more to come from this precocious young talent.
“Over the past couple of years we have been told by the academy coaches and Edu that we have certain talents that we need to take care of,” Arteta told talkSPORT.
“And the best way we have to achieve something is to send a strong message that it’s not going to be about age, age doesn’t tell you a good player from a bad player.
“When you look at this boy I feel like he’s got something special and now he’s taking a step forward and now maybe he needs ten steps back…that’s a good moment.”
Nwaneri’s debut has delighted former Arsenal player Perry Groves, who says it’s a testament to the north London club’s youth policy.
‘It’s a real boon for Brighton,’ talkSPORT said, as confirmed by De Zerbi’s appointment
“You’re Not An Imposter” – Kamara Thanks Boro Fans Who Unveiled A Stylish Banner
Celtic fans sing an anti-royal song during a minute of applause for the Queen
Arsenal star replicates Toney’s infamous tweet as Gunners show they’re still shaken
Rice corrects Lampard and Moyes as they lead the wrong teams at Goodison Park
Brentford 0-3 Arsenal LIVE reaction: Vieira scores goal pick as Gunners win
Jesus celebrates Arsenal goal with tribute to Vinicius Jr after ‘racist comment’
Arsenal overtake Man City in ‘utterly dominant’ win but doubt league titles
But added there could be a touch of jealousy or two among Nwaneri’s peers at Arsenal’s academy.
“They will have watched him… what happens is they say to him ‘you’re too good for your age group.’ It would have been moved,” Groves said.
“Obviously he has to fill in but he’s probably about six feet tall. They looked at him and thought it wasn’t worth him playing in the Under-14s or the Under-15s because he might pick up some bad habits, so they will push it higher and higher.
“They will have said to him ‘we know that you are good technically but will you be able to manage the physique?’
“He obviously came through that brilliantly and Arteta benched him and they will have given him the experience he can take advantage of.
“Other academy players will say how happy they are for him, but if I was an aspiring 17 or 18-year-old with a lot of potential, I would think ‘wait a minute, they think this 15-year-old is better than I. That’s a natural way of thinking.
“It’s a brilliant testament to Arsenal’s youth team policy.”