After Ethan Nwaneri scored a hattrick for Arsenal U21 against Leicester City U21 on Friday, Gunners fans have been calling for head coach Mikel Arteta to begin considering him for first-team contention.
Nwaneri has already enjoyed his Arsenal debut, becoming the youngest player in Premier League history in the process – but now, Gunners fans would desire him to become more and more prominent.
Where would Ethan Nwaneri fit into the senior team?
This a difficult question to answer. Naturally, Nwaneri plays in the number ten role. However, Mikel Arteta’s system does not accommodate this position, instead choosing to play his midfielders deeper.
However, this is not the only position that Nwaneri can fit into. He can also play on the left wing, but this presents its own issues. Arsenal have plenty of quality options in that position, such as Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard and Reiss Nelson.
Therefore, if this becomes his primary position, his game time will be limited at best – unless some of the players in this role are moved on.
We believe that the best option for Nwaneri long-term would be to move into central midfield. In theory, he can fulfil the role of Martin Odegaard in the future – like Odegaard, he works hard, has a range of passing and is has exquisite technical ability.
The comparisons do not stop there. He is also capable of scoring goals from midfield and is an excellent dribbler of the ball – in many ways, he draws comparisons to the Norwegian when he was Nwaneri’s age.
How long will it take before Nwaneri becomes a regular first team starter for Arsenal?
At the pace he is developing, it would not be a surprise to see Nwaneri become a first-team star at Arsenal soon. He is astonishingly mature for a player his age – physically, he still needs work, but he has all the mental attributes that he will need.
However, it seems unlikely that he will be promoted to the first team this season. It isn’t his own fault – the Gunners simply have a surplus of quality options in the positions that he plays.
He will need to be patient before he is given his chance to shine in the senior squad on a consistent basis – likewise, Arsenal supporters will need to share this patience.