Premier League • England

Rare Arsenal blunder with star’s exit now guaranteed after Arteta gets cold feet

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal will lose a rising young star to free agency this summer

A rising Arsenal star has rejected the chance to sign a contract extension at the Emirates, and with a free agent exit this summer now assured, mass interest from six different countries is emerging.

The Gunners boast the meanest defence in the league this season, with three of their back four automatic picks. William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes have unquestionably been the most domiant centre-back pairing this term. Right-back Ben White has developed into one of the league’s best in his position.

The right side of Arsenal’s rearguard is formidable to say the least. What’s more, manager Mikel Arteta can also call upon right-footers Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jurrien Tinber who can both play at full-back or centre-half.

As such, the chances of a young right-sided defender breaking into Arsenal’s eleven any time soon appear bleak. In the case of 19-year-old Reuell Walters, the task was impossible.

The teenage star was brought to Arsenal from bitter rivals Tottenham in 2020. Walters is a right-back by trade, though has played plenty of times at right centre-back in Arsenal’s youth ranks too.

Walters was voted Arsenal’s Academy Scholar of the Year for the 2022/23 season and has been included in countless matchdays squads for the senior side.

However, Walters has been an unused substitute on 21 occasions – including eight times in the Premier League this season – and is yet to make his senior debut.

Arteta has been reluctant to feature the young star, though that’s perhaps not all that surprising given the level of talent he can select in defence.

Game over for Reuell Walters at Arsenal

In any case, Arteta’s hesitancy to give Walters a chance has backfired, with the defender rejecting the opportunity to sign a contract extension with the club. The Gunners did put an offer on the table, though it’s been ignored.

The youngster has prioritised achieving regular first-team minutes and is of the belief that can’t happen at the Emirates.

Walters’ existing deal is due to expire this summer and as such, he’ll now leave the club as a free agent.

Interest in a promising young star is rampant as you might expect. Indeed, the Athletic claims clubs in the Premier League, the Championship and from Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands are all hovering.

They also stated that while Arsenal believe the parting of ways is ‘mutual’, sources close to the player have stressed Walters is leaving of his own accord.

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