Written by James Cranford – @jamescranford89
It was a quiet weekend of football for Liverpool fans, with the Reds’ trip to Stamford Bridge postponed. Their Merseyside neighbours Everton got their first win of the season at home to West Ham, whilst Arsenal remained top of the table with a 3-0 victory over Brentford. The Gunners made history by bringing on 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri, the youngest player to make a Premier League appearance.
Reports have emerged in the Liverpool Echo this week that Nwaneri is a target for LFC’s transfer committee as he has not yet signed professional terms.
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight Show, we asked goal.com’s Neil Jones for his take on the situation.
“They’ve done it before, Rhian Brewster was taken, Dominic Solanke was. Fabio Carvalho from Fulham. They’ve taken players from City, Rafa Camacho and James Balagizi. I think the biggest thing about this that would make it big would be that he’s someone who’s played for Arsenal’s first team. It works both ways, it could either be, ‘You’ve got a chance of playing’ but then you could also accelerate his mind where he’s thinking, ‘Well, why am I not playing next week?’ Or ‘When’s my next chance coming?’ You might also alert clubs to say, ‘Oh, he hasn’t signed, is he is worth a little look?’ Liverpool’s policy is clearly heading down that route – British young talent. Ben Doak, Kaide Gordon, Carvalho at first team level. There is a lot of competition at academy level for these 14, 15, 16-year-olds. There’s a lot of competition for 6, 7, 8-year-olds at academy level. The point is, it would be a big statement to take a player like that from Arsenal. They wouldn’t want to be losing any player like that.”
With the likes of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott coming through in recent years, there could certainly be a path to the Liverpool first team if Nwaneri is good enough. Ben Doak looks a talented prospect and is another example of Liverpool picking up the best young British talent. Ethan Nwaneri must be very mature for his age, but we should be wary about making grand comparisons similar to that of his headmaster, who described him as ‘the new Wayne Rooney’ this week. Former teenage wonderkid and Football Manager favourite Freddy Adu is currently without a club after a nomadic career.
There is a chance that Mikel Arteta gave the 15-year-old a small taste of first-team experience last weekend to try and convince him to remain at the club professionally, especially given the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City are apparently vying for his signature. Taking one of England’s most promising youngsters from another big club would be a coup, but a starting berth would still be at least a few seasons away.