Arsenal wonderkid Ethan Nwaneri in 'great hands' with Jack Wilshere, says Martin Odegaard
Ethan Nwaneri broke the record for the youngest Premier League player last month when he came on for Arsenal against Brentford aged 15 years and 181 days.
Martin Odegaard trusts Arsenal Under-18s coach Jack Wilshere to get the best out of Nwaneri after being in a similar position during his youth.
Wilshere made his first-team debut at Arsenal aged 16, where he became an immediate star for his dazzling midfield performances under Arsene Wenger.
His breakthrough is very similar to that of Nwaneri, while Odegaard also enjoyed a very young start to his professional career by making a huge move to Real Madrid at 16.
Now the current captain of the Gunners, Odegaard has backed Wilshere as the right man to nurture the talent of Nwaneri and keep him focused on his football.
“At the end of that Brentford game Ethan Nwaneri came on and became our youngest ever player aged 15,” said Odegaard, as quoted by The Metro.
“It’s similar to my story in a way, because I was about the same age when I made my professional debut.
“He needs to keep on playing, keep enjoying his football, keep working hard and then you will get what you deserve. For me that’s the most important thing to tell him – keep working hard, keep pushing hard every day, stay humble and then your talent will be rewarded.
“He has lots of people around him to help him with his journey – and nobody will know better than his under-18 coach Jack Wilshere, because he was in that position at Arsenal too.
“‘I’m sure he’s in great hands and he will keep on working now, but he should be proud of making his debut too.”
Nwaneri is bound to be overwhelmed by the amount of attention he received after making his Arsenal debut, but as Odegaard says – there’s no one better to deal with that than Wilshere.
He went through the exact same thing in 2008, and the next two years saw Wilshere truly establish himself as a promising star.
Wilshere was hyped up to be England’s next big star and had to deal with the media spotlight. It’s certainly something that will be new to Nwaneri, but Wilshere’s presence at the academy will help him solely focus on improving on the pitch.
On top of Wilshere, Arsenal’s first-team squad boasts an incredibly young average age, and many of the players have experienced a similar breakthrough to Nwaneri. If there’s one squad that can talk about handling pressure at a young age, then Arsenal are it.
Mikel Arteta has made it a priority to develop youth players at Arsenal, and while the Spaniard received some flak for his decision to field Nwaneri, he clearly believes a lot in his talents.
It’s now down to the club, the coaches and Nwaneri himself to make sure he reaches his maximum potential.
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