Folarin Balogun noted Ethan Nwaneri’s first-team call-ups over the summer, and he believes Arsenal have a plan in place for the 15-year-old.
Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun is currently on loan with Stade de Reims, but he was watching on from afar as 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri made his Gunners debut last weekend.
Speaking to the media, Balogun revealed that he’d seen a bit of Nwaneri in training over the summer, hearing good things from the academy coaches. The striker thinks Arsenal will have a plan in place for the teenager.
“When I was sorting out my loan towards the end of pre-season I noticed he was training with us a few times,” Balogun said. “I spoke to the 18s manager, and he told me that [Nwaneri’s] a really good player and he said that he’s got a bright future.
“So I definitely had an eye out for him, and then it was just really good to see him make his debut.
“There have been a lot of players in the past which have kicked on really early. Like Reiss Nelson, Bukayo [Saka], they’ve played first team really early.
“So I’m sure Arsenal have got a plan for him, I’m sure if he just keeps his head down and works hard that he’ll see through that plan.”
Nwaneri is currently away with the England u17s for the Syrenka Cup, but he’ll likely return to feature for the Arsenal u21s at first.
With the likes of Martin Odegaard returning from injury, squad spaces won’t be quite as readily available for youth midfielders after the break. Particularly given Arsenal will be playing the north London derby.
Nwaneri is also ineligible for the Europa League group stage. UEFA rules only allow 16-year-olds at the youngest, so Nwaneri’s first possible involvement in the competition would be in March. That rules out the group stage, the knockout round play-offs, and the round-of-16.
But when chances present themselves, Arsenal are showing Nwaneri that they’re ready to hand them to him.