By Matt Farr
Arsenal have beaten a string of Premier League rivals to win the race to sign Exeter wonderkid Ethan Ampadu, according to a report.
The Sun claim that the Gunners have fought off competition from title rivals Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea to bring the 16-year-old to the Premier League.
The highly-rated midfielder is being tipped as the next big thing of English football, and has been one of League Two’s stand-out performers this season despite Exeter’s fairly poor start to the season.
Exeter are currently 21st in the league after 19 games, of which they have won just six.
The wonderkid, who is Exeter’s youngest ever debutant, would cost around £2 million, a significant fee for a 16-year-old.
Chelsea were believed to have come close to striking a deal for Ampadu last month, but no further progress has been made. The Blues were set to allow the midfielder to rejoin Exeter on loan for the remainder of the season.
Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham have also shown an interest in the Wales U19 star. The trio have all shown an interest in landing the midfield prodigy, after he enjoyed successful trials at the clubs.
Ampadu is believed to prefer a move to Arsenal, as he will link up with father Kwame, who works as a coach in the Gunners’ youth academy.
Arsenal’s academy is among one of the most prestigious in England, and has raised a number of youngsters to Premier League level – including Hector Bellerin, Alex Iwobi, Wojciech Szczesny and Jack Wilshere.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been impressed by what he has seen from Ampadu, and believes that the Exeter youngster can follow a similar path.
The veteran manager has shown a willingness to use his youngsters frequently within the first-team setup, recently showcased in Arsenal’s EFL cup defeat to Southampton.
Wenger handed appearances to Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Emiliano Martinez, Rob Holding and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, while Alex Iwobi has become a regular starter for Arsenal this season, making 16 appearances in all competitions.
In other Arsenal news, here’s how fans reacted on Twitter to Danny Welbeck’s expected return.