Monday, April 22, 2024

Arteta challenges Nwaneri to take his opportunity

Mikel Arteta has laid down the gauntlet to rising star Ethan Nwaneri challenging the 17-year-old to step up to the first team after signing his first professional contract.

Despite Chelsea and Manchester City attempting to lure him away, the Gunners secured the midfielder’s short-term future when he agreed scholarship terms last summer.

As happened with teammate Myles Lewis-Skelly, the arrangement tided him over until his recent birthday when Arsenal further rewarded the player’s development.

“I’m really happy, it was a great day,” said Arteta when asked about Nwaneri signing his contract in his pre-Luton press conference.

“He had all his family and important people around him. It’s a really proud moment to see another academy graduate sign his pro contract.

“He’s very close to the first team and the opportunity is there, now he needs to take it.”

Handed his Premier League debut by Mikel Arteta when he was 15 – a record for the English top flight – Nwaneri has already learned what it’s like to be thrust into the limelight.

Since then, he’s played regularly for the under-21s, trained frequently with the first team and earned a second league appearance; a promising cameo in the 6-0 win at West Ham earlier this year.

Academy manager Per Mertesacker, who has seen Nwaneri’s development at close quarters, said at the time of his contract confirmation that he has made a “seamless transition” to London Colney and that he demonstrates positive attributes on and off the pitch.

“Ethan has a strong ability to master the ball, dominate possession and is really effective in the final third, which fits into our playing style at Arsenal Football Club,” added Mertesacker.

“He is someone that will thrive on and off the pitch as a Strong Young Gunner and we look forward to working with him during his ongoing development in the years to come.”

No doubt Nwaneri will have one eye on impressing Arteta when Arsenal tour the USA in the summer.

Off the back of the European Championships and Copa America, and with senior midfielders likely to leave when the transfer window opens, it’s likely the club will lean on youngsters while its big names ease their way into pre-season preparations.

In theory, friendlies against Manchester United and Liverpool could afford the next generation a springboard to make their mark.

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It’s just why I support Arsenal ! Brady Stapleton Hillier Adams Wilshire Saka how good are we at producing brilliant not just good players ! I’m hoping Ethan takes that next step & follows in great footsteps !!!


I’m sad you didn’t mention Ian selley and mark flatts.

They were in the team in Copenhagen?

Heavenly Chapecoense

Have to give it to Man U that they get more talents from their academy than we do.

Johnny 4 Hats

People won’t like this. But I think Ethan takes ESR’s squad position next season.

Santi’s Phonebox

I actually think he will play, so ESR’s squad position on the bench should be safe.

Johnny 4 Hats

People really living in denial about ESR.

Boy has been fit for months and doesn’t get a look in.

Anyone who still believes he’s going to have a career at Arsenal needs to start the grieving process now. For their own good.

Football is a cruel mistress.


The Team is transitioning really fast and the standard is getting higher and higher. One minute you are the star man before you know it, you cant even compete against those on the Bench

Johnny 4 Hats

It’s the same people who carried the Ramsdale hopium when Raya was playing all the games.

Arteta is harsh but he’s consistent. If you aren’t playing and you’re fit, you’re done.

A Different George

It seems pretty clear that Arteta does not have confidence in Smith Rowe. Like it or not, that is not a criticism of Arteta.

Johnny 4 Hats

Just look at Gabby Jesus. Our saviour one minute and being crucified the next.

Just like…

Nah. Can’t think of a comparison.


Either ESR or Nelson. Arteta talks a good game but history suggests if you don’t play, he doesn’t rate you. Selling ex academy players is important for our coffers. Space will be made for Nwaneri.

Dr. Gooner

I had the same thought. Promoting Nwaneri to take his place will ease the psychological burden of letting him go.


This aged well!


Maybe waiting for his long term contract commitment before risking his profile increasing from first team games and other teams like Chelsea who are known for trying to tap up Arsenal young players.


What’s his best position? Left 8, 10 or Right Wing? I’ve seen him play in all 3.

A Different George

He really looked impressive against West Ham, though of course it’s hard to know how much you can take from that, given the game state and the shattered opposition. I think he was kind of a right 10– a little like the attacking part of an Ødegaard role. He wasn’t box-to-box but, again, that may have only been because West Ham never advanced the ball into our half.

Dr. Gooner

I’d say he’s akin to a more modern Jack Wilshere. Close control and ball progression are his calling cards and you need that all over the pitch. The issue for him will be physicality. Can he make the leap to protecting the ball against aggressive top flight players? If he can then he’s ready to play for us today. If he can’t then we have to hope that part comes later. That’s often where talented academy players fail to make the grade.

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