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Arsenal wonderkid Ethan Nwaneri snubs Chelsea to avoid transfer repeat for Mikel Arteta

Suraj Radia
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
© IMAGO

Arsenal have pulled off a significant move which could pay dividends in the future after shaking off interest from rival clubs to tie wonderkid Ethan Nwaneri down to a new contract.

Nwaneri became the youngest player to appear in the Premier League when he made his debut for the Gunners in September 2022 aged 15 years and 181 days old.

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However, the midfielder has made just one further appearance since then, coming off the bench in Arsenal’s recent 6-0 win over West Ham, and there was speculation that Nwaneri could consider signing professional terms with another team due to the lack of opportunities.

READ MORE: Latest Arsenal transfer news

But despite rumours linking the England under-17 international to teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal confirmed that Nwaneri has signed his first professional deal with the club, with Fabrizio Romano revealing that the player turned down three proposals from other sides in the process.

The news will be a relief to Arsenal supporters who were fearing a repeat of the situation that saw another Hale End graduate in Omari Hutchinson join Chelsea in 2022.

With Hutchinson proving his worth this season while on loan at Championship side Ipswich, Arsenal have ensured that Nwaneri will not follow suit and could instead establish himself as a favourite at the Emirates Stadium for years to come.

Why Arteta needs to show faith in Arsenal youngsters

Nwaneri will be hoping to be handed more first team opportunities by Mikel Arteta, having seen criticisms from some Arsenal fans who feel their manager has not integrated enough academy graduates during his time at the club.

Although Arsenal boast one of the youngest squads in the division, Nwaneri is the only teenager to have played in the Premier League under Arteta since his appointment in 2019.

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Even in cup competitions, Arteta has been reluctant to field his academy youngsters, with Charles Sagoe Junior the only youngster to play this season when he featured against Brentford in the EFL Cup.

Arteta will perhaps be justified in arguing that there has been no significant opportunity to thrust youth players into the deep end, given their title pushes and early exits in domestic cup competitions.

However, even in one-sided Champions League affairs such as the 6-0 win over Lens or the dead rubber draw against PSV, fringe veterans such as Cedric Soares were preferred despite the presence of youngsters on the bench.

Arteta has always encouraged his youngsters with the caveat of them needing to match the maturity shown by the likes of Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli, meaning perhaps youngsters like Nwaneri still have much to learn.

But Nwaneri’s introduction against West Ham could be a sign that he is the next Hale End graduate to progress into a first team regular and the teenager could be have the potential to be more like a Saka than a Hutchinson going forward.

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