Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has been lyrical about his Gunners team-mate Ethan Nwaneri, who became the youngest player to feature in the Premier League last weekend.
Arsenal played their seventh Premier League game of the season against Brentford on Sunday 18 September. They reclaimed their place at the top of the table by beating the Bees 3-0.
William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira have their names on the Gunners’ scoresheet. Xhaka also impressed Mikel Arteta’s side on the afternoon, providing an assist for Jesus’ goal.
Nwaneri is another player who made headlines during the game between Arsenal and Brentford. The striker made his senior debut for the North London giants, a late replacement for Vieira.
Aged 15, Nwaneri became the youngest player to appear in the English top flight. He also etched his name in the Gunners history books, becoming their youngest ever player.
Xhaka has now provided a glowing review of the teenager, whom he coached at Under-16 level to earn his coaching licence. The Swiss called Nwaneri a unique player and went on to say he has a big future ahead of him. The Arsenal star was quoted as saying by CBS Sports:
“I am doing my coaching license and I have trained [him in] those under 16 years old. You can see a big difference with him and the other guys. He’s very, very special.”
“Of course you have to protect him because he is very young, but if he continues like this with his hard work, he has a big, big future.”
Xhaka also revealed that Nwaneri was shy but advised him to become a regular in the Gunners first team. He also stressed the need to protect the youngster given his young age. He said:
“He’s not with us much in training. I’ve seen him maybe two or three times now. But he’s very shy, of course, but the time will come when he’ll be with us more.”
“You have to protect him and help him. Football is not everything for him and for us, but yes, the club will help him and the experienced players have to help him.”
Having made his senior debut for the North London giants over the weekend, Nwaneri will hope to have more playing time under his belt this season.
Arsenal star Xhaka jokes the time ‘is on the way’ for him
Xhaka turns 30 next week and is 15 years older than Nwaneri. The midfielder joked how the age difference makes him realize his career is slowly coming to an end. He said (according to the aforementioned report):
“I spoke to a guy from Brentford and I told him this guy was 15 and he looked at me and said, ‘f— me, we look old!’ So yes, of course, when you are 15 years apart you say to yourself ‘OK, the time has not passed but it is on its way’ [for me].’ But we appreciate him, he appreciates us because he has the quality.”
Xhaka has made eight appearances in all competitions for Arsenal this season, contributing four goals in the process.