Ethan Nwaneri: Arsenal fighting to keep record-breaking wonderkid away from Chelsea and Man City's clutches
When Ethan Nwaneri stepped onto the pitch at Brentford earlier in the season to play for the final three minutes of Arsenal’s 3-0 win, he instantly wrote his name into the Premier League history books.
No player under 16 had ever played in an English top-flight game before, yet when he replaced Fabio Vieira in the closing stages of the London derby, Nwaneri was aged just 15 years and 181 days.
The attacking midfielder went from teenage unknown to Premier League history maker in a blink of an eye.
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Nwaneri was suddenly attracting attention from all over the world. Who was this 15-year-old who had caught Mikel Arteta’s eye? Where had he come from?
The answer of course was Hale End. Arsenal’s academy system which has produced so many top talents over the course of the past decade.
"The first time I met him, I looked into his eyes and I had that feeling. I really liked what I saw," Arteta explained, when asked why he had decided to give such a young player a league debut.
“Per Mertesacker [Arsenal’s academy manager] and the staff are giving me really good information, Edu [Arsenal’s sporting director] as well."