Danny Murphy slams Mikel Arteta decision to hand Ethan Nwaneri his Arsenal debut
Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest ever player to feature in the Premier League last weekend, but pundit Danny Murphy was left fuming at the Arsenal manager.
At 15 years and 181 days, Nwaneri beat Harvey Elliott to become the youngest ever player in England’s top flight. The Arsenal starlet was brought on by Mikel Arteta during the Gunners’ 3-0 victory over Brentford.
However, while Murphy was in awe of Nwaneri’s “phenomenal” record, the former midfielder suggested that Arteta will regret his decision in the future.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Murphy said: I’m not convinced that it’s the best move for a young player, I’m really not.
“I probably think it’s trying to keep a young superstar happy which is what managers do, I get that, but I would be more concerned with what that can do.
“You can elevate a 15 or 16-year-old to a position that becomes very difficult for them to cope with mentally because they’re already becoming a superstar. I imagine his Instagram went up by about 300,000 followers in a day!”
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Make or break
Arteta took a huge risk by introducing Nwaneri to the Premier League at such a young age. As suggested by Murphy, there’s a danger that his focus may shift away from football after attracting the media spotlight.
It could go either of two ways – either Nwaneri fails to live up to his lofty potential and sinks into irrelevance, or he rises to it and goes on to become the latest teenage sensation, following in the footsteps of the likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.
Murphy’s concerns are genuine, and he’s right to suggest that Arteta’s intentions have to be in the right place. If the Spaniard fast-tracked Nwaneri’s journey to the first team solely to fight off interest from Manchester United and Liverpool scouts, then he rightly deserves criticism.
But if Nwaneri is ready to play alongside first team stars, and is being given a taste of the Premier League to encourage his growth in the academy, then Arteta could look back on his decision fondly.
Frankly, only time will tell whether Nwaneri can handle the pressure of being the Premier League’s youngest ever star. He’s clearly held in high regard at the Emirates, but he’ll need protecting by Arteta if he is to become a mainstay in the first team.
In other Arsenal news, Ethan Nwaneri’s headmaster reacts to his Premier League debut