'We hope he stays' - Jack Wilshere hails Arsenal wonderkid Ethan Nwaneri as Chelsea and Manchester City circle
- Nwaneri made senior debut at Brentford at just 15
- That remains his only senior Arsenal appearance
- He does not turn 17 until March, 2024
WHAT HAPPENED? Nwaneri became the youngest ever player to feature in an English top flight game earlier in the season when Mikel Arteta handed him his senior debut during a 3-0 win at Brentford - aged just 15 years and 181 days.
But there are fears the Gunners could now lose their talented attacking midfielder, who can’t sign a professional contract until he is 17, with Chelsea and Manchester City known to be keen on luring him away from north London.
🏆 TOP STORY: The candidates to replace Graham Potter as Chelsea boss
📣 HAVE YOUR SAY: Were the Blues right to sack Potter?
🚨 MUST READ: What has happened to Van Dijk this season?!
WHAT THEY SAID: Wilshere, who is Nwaneri’s Under-18s coach at Arsenal, can’t give guarantees over the youngster’s future, but says he will do all he can to keep developing yet another Hale End success story.
“We all hope he stays because he's an exceptional talent,” said Wilshere, whose U18s side host Manchester City on Tuesday night in the FA Youth cup semi-final. “As coaches, we don't get involved and we don't talk about that. I think we have to make it clear we don't talk about that. That's nothing. Our job is to develop Ethan to help him when he goes with the first-team.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Nwaneri was thrust into the headlines when he made his debut at Brentford earlier in the season. He has not featured since, but has remained a hot topic of discussion, with rival Premier League clubs known to be chasing his signature.
Suddenly finding yourself in the spotlight can be hard to deal with at such a young age, but Wilshere is full of praise for the way his player has handled the situation.
AND WHAT'S MORE: The former Gunners midfielder added: “As coaches, that's what we focus on with Ethan, trying to give him the best platform, trying to give him a clear head. He has been exceptional with what he's been doing, how he's managed school, his GCSEs. He does well at school as well by the way, which It's important. I know that Per [Mertesacker] really believes in that - 'better people, better players'.
“Obviously it is a new world for him, people talking about him on social media, will he stay, will he go? To manage that as well and still perform in the Youth Cup. Whatever he does, I wish him all the best and he deserves it because of the sacrifices he's made.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT'S NEXT? Nwaneri is expected to start for Arsenal U18s when they host Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup semi-final at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.