Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice was man of the match during Sunday’s 6-0 win over his former side West Ham, but the England ace was quick to heap praise on one of his team-mates
Declan Rice has heaped praise on Arsenal youngster Ethan Nwaneri, who made just his second Premier League appearance on Sunday.
The 16-year-old was brought on with 15 minutes still to play as the Gunners decimated their London rivals West Ham with a 6-0 win at the home of the Hammers. By the time Nwaneri was introduced, Arsenal had already bagged all six goals and boss Mikel Arteta deemed it a suitable time to get the teenager on the pitch for the first time since September of last year.
The Hale End graduate impressed, as despite his age Nwaneri was more than comfortable when it came to getting on the ball and attacking the West Ham backline. Arsenal’s most talented players, the likes of Rice and captain Martin Odegaard, clearly trust him if the passing stats are anything to go by.
Odegaard and Nwaneri exchanged passes 15 time, which is arguably the highest compliment that can be paid to the talented teen. After the game, the youngster took to Instagram to upload some pictures of his performance.
If any Gunners fan wanted an insight into what the senior stars really think of Nwaneri, look no further than the comment section. Ben White opted for the ‘praise hands’ emoji, while William Saliba instead added three fire emojis.
Bukayo Saka, a man who knows just how hard it is to break into the Arsenal first-team, wrote “baller”, but it was perhaps Rice’s assessment that spoke volumes. The Gunners record-signing added: “Special, special talent.”
It is clear that Arsenal’s established stars think incredibly highly of Nwaneri, as explained by Arteta himself during his post-match media duties.
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“There is something that you have to earn in your team and that is the trust of your team-mates. I had two things. One, the players on the bench whispering ‘Bring Ethan in!’, which is a great thing to hear,” Arteta said.
“The other thing is for your team-mates to give you the ball all the time. If they do that, it’s because they really trust you and you only have to see how many times he was involved in that. So it’s a great sign.”
Nwaneri made history last season when he became the youngest player to star in a Premier League game at just 15 years and 181 days. Whether he features in another league game this season is unknown, but with the backing of Arteta, Rice and Odegaard – the future is bright for the teenage midfielder.
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