By Liam Thomas

29th Sep, 2022 | 8:10am

Per Mertesacker praises starlet Ethan Nwaneri after Arsenal debut

Arsenal legend Per Mertesacker has had his say on starlet Ethan Nwaneri’s groundbreaking debut, which saw the 15-year-old become the youngster ever Premier League player.

Nwaneri was brought on by Mikel Arteta late into a 3-0 win against Brentford on 18 September; breaking the previous record held by Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott.

Mertesacker admitted that Nwaneri will have a “positive influence” on youngsters playing at grassroots levels and his appearance was a powerful message from Arsenal boss Arteta.

Speaking to Arsenal.com, Mertesacker claimed that the debut of Nwaneri sets the tone for fellow youngsters in the game to follow suit.

“I have to say how much it trickled down,” Mertesacker said.

“I’ve seen videos of the under-9, under-10 squads cheering Ethan on at Hale End when he came on.

“Players that would start the same journey as he did, in the grassroots academy, were cheering him on. So all of a sudden he has been escalated to be a role model and a positive influence for young players.

“It was a very proud moment, first of all for himself and his family. It’s a reflection as well of what this club is about, what the academy is about.

“A lot of youngsters entering the academy have the dream of playing for Arsenal Football Club and he made that dream come true. It was a proud moment for us as an academy.

“It’s just brilliant to see, that’s what we are proud of, that we can show progression, that we can show pathways.”

Mertesacker right.

In an age where the Premier League has been dominated by youngsters coming from other countries to our best squads, Nwaneri’s debut highlights the homegrown talent still available to top clubs.

The youngster’s debut can inspire others around him that there are still chances to make it out of the academy system into the first team.

His appearance will undoubtedly have a positive effect that can trickle down into youth systems around the country; groundbreaking to say the least.

Nwaneri is obviously a special talent but this doesn’t mean there aren’t similar players who can make the step up; they just need to be given the chance to do so.

In the ever-competitive Premier League this is a tough ask, but more needs to be done to promote the homegrown talents in the squad; fair play to Arteta for doing so.

Hopefully, this can have a positive knock-on effect and we can start to see more youngsters from the academy system earning Premier League caps.

In other Arsenal news, Gabriel Martinelli is set for his breakthrough season according to our scouting expert