Premier League • England

Liverpool, Man City keen on Arsenal wonderkid as pundit slams ulterior Arteta motives over debut

Ethan Nwaneri, Gabriel Martinelli, September 2022

Liverpool and Manchester City are reportedly keeping tabs on Arsenal wonderkid Ethan Nwaneri, following his shock Premier League debut.

The 15-year-old and the Gunners made history on Sunday, as he became the English top flight’s youngest-ever player. Indeed, he beat Liverpool midfielder Harvey Elliott’s record.

Nwaneri, who managed the feat aged 15 and 181 days old, came on in second-half stoppage time of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Brentford.

The teenager has yet to sign a scholarship with the Gunners. What’s more, he is even further off being able to sign his first professional contract.

But the move has nevertheless got tongues wagging over a potential future superstar. And according to The Times, Liverpool and Man City are keen on Nwaneri.

Both clubs have long-standing reputations of developing exciting homegrown talents and also recruiting such players from abroad.

And the Premier League’s top two are reportedly among the leading clubs watching Nwaneri’s development closely.

It remains unclear how many more minutes the schoolboy will get this season. However, the attacking midfielder is already progressing well on the international stage, with one goal from three England Under-17 caps.

Arsenal criticised over Nwaneri debut

Nwaneri’s debut has not gone down well with everyone, though.

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy claimed there have likely been ulterior motives at play from Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta over the surprise debut.

“I am not convinced it is the best move for a young player, I am really not,” Murphy told talkSPORT.

“I have seen superstars come on the scene at a young age and thrive and go on and carry on, but there has also been a lot who have fallen by the wayside.

“He is obviously a super-talent, doing well in training and impressing everybody, but surely they have got other 18, 19 and 20-year-olds who are further ahead in their development who could have gone on the bench.

“I think he [Arteta] is probably trying to keep a young superstar happy.”

While Liverpool and Man City have thriving academies, Arsenal also have a solid reputation for developing youngsters.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, who are both Hale End graduates, have become cornerstones of the Arsenal team.

Before them, the likes of Serge Gnabry and Ismael Bennacer – among many others – failed to make it at the Emirates Stadium.

Gunners youngster on the radar

The Premier League’s top teams are always scouring their rival clubs for top talents – and Nwaneri is one who has presented himself more acutely than others.

His Premier League debut for Arsenal has officially made the history books. And he could remain the division’s youngest-ever player for a while.

As for where he could develop elsewhere, Jurgen Klopp and his assistant Pep Lijnders have excelled with young talents at Liverpool.

Elliott and Fabio Carvalho are getting regular game time in the midfield. Meanwhile, Tyler Morton is following in Elliott’s footsteps with a Blackburn loan. Curtis Jones is also in the first-team mix.

Meanwhile, Reds right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has made himself an irreplaceable player for Klopp. And further forward, former Derby youngster Kaide Gordon is an exciting prospect.

Over at Man City, Phil Foden is the standout academy graduate for Pep Guardiola’s side. This summer, the Etihad Stadium club sold four academy talents to Southampton alone. Romeo Lavia and Gavin Bazunu are enjoying regular first-team minutes.

As such, it is clear to see why Liverpool and Man City have an interest in Nwaneri, who will be looking to progress after getting an exciting – albeit short – taste of Premier League football.

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