Granit Xhaka has told The Times that Ethan Nwaneri is very special after the Arsenal starlet became the youngest player in Premier League history at the weekend.
The Gunners remain top of the Premier League going into the international break. Mikel Arteta’s men won 3-0 at Brentford on Sunday in a further statement of intent following their performance at the same ground last season.
And yet, it was someone brought on in stoppage-time who stole many of the headlines. Nwaneri made history by coming on at the age of 15 years and 181 days.
Arteta obviously had the perfect opportunity to hand Nwaneri his debut. However, Xhaka has hinted that the teenager was more than deserving of his chance.
Xhaka has worked with some of the younger age groups as he does his coaching badges. And it appears that Nwanari is someone he is very much aware of.
“You can see a big difference with him and the other guys,” he told The Times.
“He is very special. He looks old when I see him. I told a Brentford player that he was 15 and he looked at me and said: ‘we are looking old!’ When you have 15 years’ difference you think, ‘Okay, the time is not gone but it is on the way.’ ”
Nwaneri is very special
The challenge is now for Nwaneri to prove that he can kick on from here. Suddenly, he is going to have so many more people monitoring his development, expecting him to be the next big thing.
Obviously, Arteta would not have used him had he not been confident about his potential. And there is so much quality in the Arsenal academy that Nwaneri is in the perfect environment for his development.
It will be very interesting to see how he is used in the coming months by Arteta. Arsenal have made an amazing start to the season. And there is a sense that the club have built a special squad.
But it would not be a surprise if Sunday was not the last time we see Nwaneri in the Arsenal first-team this season.