Manchester United are reportedly among the leading contenders to sign teenage Arsenal star Ethan Nwaneri amid growing fears he is likely to leave Emirates Stadium this summer.
The midfielder, still only 16, made history in the season just finished when he became the youngest player to ever feature in the Premier League. Not only is he Arsenal’s youngest ever first-team player, he is also the youngest person to ever appear in the English top flight.
Indeed, when coming on against Brentford back in September 2022, he was just 15 years and 181 days old.
However, despite that record-breaking occasion, Nwaneri is yet to feature since.
Rated highly by Mikel Arteta, the Gunners have made it clear to the youngster, they want to tie him down, when old enough, to professional terms. To that end, a report earlier this year claimed Arsenal were ‘doing all they can’ to tie Nwaneri down.
However, that cannot happen until his 17th birthday in March 2024 – and, as a result, the Gunners are at a major risk of losing the midfield prospect.
Manchester City are reportedly leading the chase, with scouts at the Premier League champions taking note of his abilities.
There is also interest from across London from Chelsea too. Indeed, the Gunners are still reeling after losing another brilliant youngster, in Omari Hutchison, to the Blues last summer.
However, per The Athletic, Manchester United are also now strongly showing an interest.
Their scouts have been keeping a close check on Nwaneri’s progress, with a close eye kept on him during the recent European Under-17 Championship.
He helped the young Lions reach the quarter-finals, scoring the winner in the group stage win over Croatia.
Arsenal loss of Man Utd target Nwaneri will hurt
With his future currently uncertain, the one thing The Athletic do state is that Nwaneri does look poised to move on this summer.
His exit will come as a major blow to Arteta, who has shown his faith in the 5ft 5in midfielder by handing him his senior bow.
He has also caught the eye of former Arsenal star Jack Wilshere, now coach of their Under-18s side, labelling Nwaneri “exceptional”.
And while he has yet to re-appear for the first team, he has shown his talents for the club’s U18s and U21s, conjuring up multiple goals and assists.
Capable of playing across the midfield or out wide, it is easy to see why he is rated so highly by the Gunners.
Speaking after the win over the Bees, Arteta revealed why he called upon the teenage star.
“We have the opportunities to bring young players on. We are pretty short and opportunities come when issues arise. It was a pure gut feeling,” he said.
“I met the boy, I really liked what I saw. He trained with us a couple of times. I had that feeling yesterday that if the opportunity could come, I would do it. He deserves it and he’s been doing great. He is such a big talent we want to keep with us.”
But despite that belief in his abilities, Nwaneri appears likely to be on the move.
A move to any of their rivals would hurt Arsenal badly and watching his progress elsewhere would prove a bitter pill to swallow.