Rio Ferdinand reckons Arsenal youngster Ethan Nwaneri is destined to reach the top – and has compared the Premier League record breaker to one of the golden boys of English football.
The 15-year-old wonderkid set a new Premier League record on Sunday by becoming the youngest player ever in the competition. Stepping off the bench in the Gunners’ 3-0 win at Brentford, he gained a piece of the action at just 15 years and 181 days. That took Harvey Elliott’s record by some distance.
Naturally, Nwaneri has been a hot topic of conversation this week following his record-breaking exploits. Yet to sign a scholarship, let alone a professional deal, tongues have quickly been wagging over the teenager’s potential. Indeed, reports earlier on Tuesday claimed both Liverpool and Manchester City have been keeping a close eye on his development.
The Premier League pair have a solid track record of developing emerging talent. And the duo would seemingly leap at the chance of adding Nwaneri into their ranks.
He suggests Mikel Arteta wants to show the teenager that his prospects are best served at Arsenal. And his incredibly tender first-team debut was merely his way of illustrating that fact.
“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.
Rio Ferdinand makes huge Ethan Nwaneri comparison
“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.”
However, Murphy’s theory has been slaughtered by Ferdinand, who insists Nwaneri is destined for huge success.
And he reckons the player is on a par with Phil Foden, with the supremely-talented Man City star one of English football’s most gifted talents in years.
“There’s no doubting this kid’s ability. I’ve heard from coaches that are at the club and from various different people in the game at that level that there aren’t many 15-year-olds in the last 10 or so years that have got the ability that this guy’s shown on a consistent basis,” he told his YouTube channel.
“We are talking the Fodens of this world. At 15, he’s at a similar level they’re talking.”
Player certainly one for the future
Nwaneri is certainly a hot tip for the future. Having made his Premier League debut, all eyes will be on the youngster to see when his next chance comes.
As an attacking midfielder, Arsenal have great depth in that position. However, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe both missed out against the Bees, handing Fabio Vieira a start in midfield.
As such, it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest his chance was worthy as the next in line.
Quite when his next opportunity will arise though remains to be seen. And it will be interesting to see whether the player even makes the bench when Arsenal next return to action, against Tottenham, on Saturday 1 October.
That said, the Gunners have a great track record of producing talented youngsters and affording them chances. And in Arteta, they certainly have a coach who believes in promoting young talent.
Indeed, Arsenal have produced the likes of Bukayo Saka, Smith Rowe and even Serge Gnabry and Ismael Bennacer in recent years.
As such, Arteta’s move to blood Ethan Nwaneri may prove a shrewd one and the first of many to come.