Arsenal are struggling to agree the terms of a professional contract with 15-year-old midfielder Ethan Nwaneri, 90min can confirm, with Chelsea pushing hardest to lure the teenager away.
Nwaneri is regarded as one of English football’s brightest prospects and shattered the record for the youngest player in Premier League history when he came on for Mikel Arteta’s side at the age of 15 years and 181 days earlier this season.
The Gunners have been working to strike a deal with Nwaneri over a senior contract but sources have confirmed to 90min that those negotations with Nwaneri have made very little progress, sparking significant interest from elsewhere.
Manchester City and Manchester United have both tracked Nwaneri this season but it is understood that Chelsea are currently in pole position to land the teenager’s signature.
Last summer, Chelsea recruited winger Omari Hutchinson from the Arsenal academy and the Blues are looking to follow that up with a move for another Hale End gem in Nwaneri.
There is also plenty of interest in Nwaneri from overseas. In Germany, Borussia Dortmund are known admirers while Dutch side Ajax have also expressed an interest in the 15-year-old.
Arsenal have not yet given up hope of retaining Nwaneri, who is part of an exciting generation at the club that also includes the likes of 16-year-old midfielder Myles Lewis-Skelly and 17-year-old forward Omari Benjamin, and will continue talks with the Premier League record breaker.
Negotiations were ongoing when Nwaneri made his Arsenal debut, although Arteta denied the move had anything to do with his future at the club.
“It’s another step, another experience,” the boss stated. “In your career all the steps are not going to be forward. After that, maybe he needs three backwards to go another one forward, but as well I think it sends a really strong message about who we are as a club.”
Arsenal would be entitled to a compensation fee if they lost Nwaneri, whose Premier League appearance would allow the Gunners to demand a higher sum.