Granit Xhaka has hailed Ethan Nwaneri as a “special” player with a “big future”, but he believes Arsenal must “protect” the 15-year-old after he shot to fame.
Nwaneri made history on Sunday as he became the Premier League’s youngest ever player by coming on for the final minutes of Arsenal’s 3-0 win at Brentford.
The midfielder was aged just 15 years and 181 days when he was brought off the bench by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, beating the previous Premier League record of Liverpool midfielder Harvey Elliot – who was 16 years and 30 days.
Xhaka, who has coached Nwaneri at youth level as he is currently doing his coaching badges with Arsenal, has praised the teenage midfield but he wants the youngster to be protected from the limelight too.
“We have to check the passport first! I am joking,” said Xhaka.
“To have a guy who is 15, who is 15 years younger than me…he looks old when I see him but the club can be proud of a player like him.
“He has a big future, if I am honest, I am doing my coaching licence and I have trained the Under-16s. You can see a big difference with him and the other guys. He is very, very special.
“Of course you have to protect him as he is very young but if he keeps going like this with his hard work he has a big, big future.
“I spoke with one Brentford guy and I told him this guy was 15 and he looked at me and said: ‘F*** me, we are looking old!’
“So yes, of course, when you have 15 years difference you think: ‘Okay the time is not gone but it is on the way’. But we are enjoying him, he is enjoying us as he has the quality.
“If I am honest, he is not with us a lot in training. I have maybe seen him twice or three times now. But he is very shy, of course, but the time will come when he will be more with us, but you have to protect him and help him.
“Football is not everything for him and for us but yes, the club will help him and the experienced players have to help him.”