Liverpool has a track record of developing young players, as evidenced by the rise of Stefan Bajeti and Harvey Elliott, which could be appealing to one Arsenal starlet
Jürgen Klopp’s willingness to give youth a chance has been on display this season, with two midfield youngsters in particular impressing for Liverpool in an otherwise disappointing season. One Arsenal midfielder could be the ideal addition as the Reds look to continue their winning ways.
Ethan Nwaneri, a Gunners prospect, made headlines earlier this season when he came on as a substitute for Mikel Arteta’s side against Brentford at the age of just 15 years and 181 days, becoming the Premier League’s youngest-ever player in the process. Of course, Harvey Elliott held the previous record, and perhaps the diminutive midfielder will see the former Fulham wonderkid’s rise following his move to Anfield as a well-trodden path to regular first-team action.
The England U17 international has been with Arsenal’s academy since he was nine years old and is regarded as a potential future star, having already made 21 appearances for the club across various age groups this season. In addition to making his first-team debut, the emerging attacking prospect has contributed eight goal involvements in total — four goals and four assists.
This season, the now-16-year-old has demonstrated the tactical ability to play a variety of offensive positions, primarily as an attacking midfielder but also as a winger and a second-striker, and was named one of ‘the 50 best wonderkids in football’ by Goal.com earlier this week. Given his progress and potential availability, it’s no surprise that a slew of clubs are reportedly ready to compete with Liverpool for his signature, with Manchester City and Chelsea also interested, according to a Football London reporter.
Arsenal will be desperate to keep the starlet, who has been described as ‘unplayable’ by former midfielder and current U-18s manager Jack Wilshere, but the attacker has yet to commit his professional future to the club. “We still don’t know if the youngster will be committing his future to Arsenal,” Football London’s Tom Canton said on The Gooner Talk YouTube channel. Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and a number of other clubs are all interested in the youngster who became the Premier League’s youngest player ever earlier this season against Brentford.”
“Arsenal has done everything they can to keep Ethan Nwaneri at the club by giving him opportunities,” he added. Arsenal has done everything, but if there are better offers elsewhere, there is very little Arsenal can do, and they can only hope he will continue to believe in the team that has provided him with these opportunities and development throughout his younger years.”
After making his debut for Arsenal’s first team in September, the youngster has yet to play again for the club, but his performances for the club’s youth teams have left a lasting impression. The aforementioned Wilshere waxed lyrical about the promising forward’s talents after he scored a brace in nine minutes for Arsenal U18s in their 3-3 draw against Manchester United in the U18 Premier League Cup in November. He stated: “He was excellent. At times, he was unplayable. He had a few memorable moments.”
Wilshere also mentioned Nwaneri as capable of ‘doing things you can’t coach’ after a dramatic 3-2 FA Youth Cup quarter-final victory over Cambridge United in February, adding ‘that’s why [he’s] at Arsenal’. However, with the prospect unable to sign a professional contract until he is 17, clubs such as Liverpool may be able to entice him away from Arsenal’s clutches, with the teenager able to sign scholarship forms with another club after turning 16 this month.
The Arsenal wonderkid only needs to look at the likes of Stefan Bajeti and Harvey Elliott to see that there is a path to regular first-team football at an elite club at Liverpool. A move to Merseyside might be able to help this Premier League record-breaker take the next step in his career.