Is it too early for Ethan Nwaneri to step up to the Arsenal first team?

  • The youngster is set to feature more next season but it could be too early for him to make the jump up
Nwaneri could have a more prominent first team role next season
Nwaneri could have a more prominent first team role next season / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Ethan Nwaneri is expected to feature for the Arsenal first team more often next season, as per reports. While his talent is clear, this could be a risky decision to make.

Nwaneri is still 17 and will not turn 18 until March 2025 but has already featured sparingly for Mikel Arteta's first team, and there is no doubt this has what sparked the rumours regarding his potential step-up next season.

If the reports are accurate, it's likely Nwaneri will receive a promotion to the Arsenal first team. This would be a huge yet potentially risky move for the youngster.

Is it too early for Ethan Nwaneri to step up to the Arsenal first team?

Ethan Nwaneri
It could be too early for Nwaneri / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Nwaneri initially made headlines when he made his Arsenal debut as a substitute against Brentford in September 2022. At 15 years and 181 days old, he became the youngest player in both Arsenal and Premier League history, receiving substantial media coverage.

If he was to receive a promotion to the first team at the age of 17, this would no doubt prompt plenty more media coverage of the teenager. At such a young age, this can be largely unwanted and cause distraction, mounting added pressure on Nwaneri.

Away from the media side of the sport, plenty of players have previously struggled with the step up from academy to first team football. Some youngsters haven't appeared to be physically ready to compete at the top level against older players.

A prominent example of this is Jack Wilshere. The former midfielder was arguably one of Arsenal's greatest ever prospects and earned a first team promotion at the age of 17. He initially shined under Arsene Wenger but was plagued by injury in the seasons until his Gunners departure. This may not have been down to his physical ability but it does demonstrate the toll that football at the highest level can have.

Mikel Arteta and the club's hierarchy should look back at the journeys of previous academy players and ask themselves if Nwaneri is genuinely ready to make the step up to the first team.

It is likely that the majority of Nwaneri's appearances next season will come in domestic cup competitions and occasionally off the bench in the league and Europe so his first team involvement will not be too drastic.

Ethan Nwaneri clearly has the ability so it is not too early for him to feature more often for the Arsenal first team. However, his increased involvement should be monitored by the club with caution as to prevent any potential negativity surrounding his prosperous career. It must be ensured Nwaneri does not become too overwhelmed by both the footballing and media sides of first team football.