By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes| Premier League expert with experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Arsenal-bound Kelechi Nwakali will request the shirt number worn by his hero Kanu when he signs for Arsenal on Friday, the teenage sensation has revealed.
The 17-year-old set off for London on Thursday night to travel to the Gunners’ headquarters, where he will undergo a medical and sign a four-year contract.
The Nigerian midfielder’s transfer had been held up while he waited for visa and work permit clearance.
But he has finally been granted documentation and boarded a British Airways flight to London to finalise his move to Arsenal.
Nwakali has told the Nigerian Tribune that he will request the same No25 shirt worn by his hero, countryman and former Gunners striker Kanu, widely regarded as one of Nigeria’s greatest players.
However, that number belongs to Carl Jenkinson, whose second consecutive season-long loan at West Ham was cut short earlier this week after he tore his cruciate ligament. Jenkinson has returned to Arsenal to start his long road to recovery from an injury that will sideline him for nine to 12 months.
Nwakali said: “I am going to Arsenal to work and try to be the best I can. With God anything is possible, to work hard to justify my claim for first team football.”
Football Insider revealed last week that Arsenal’s double deal for Nwakali and and teenage countryman Samuel Chukwueze was ’99 per cent done’ after a £4million deal was accepted by the players’ academy in Nigeria. Chukwueze is expected to complete his move next month.
Arsenal were among a number of leading European clubs who scouted Nwakali and Chukwueze in last year’s Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Chile.
Nwakali, 17, was named as player of the tournament, while Chukwueze, 16, also delivered a series of promising displays for Nigeria.
In other Arsenal transfer news, Mathieu Debuchy will be allowed to choose between Aston Villa and Sunderland after Arsene Wenger agreed to allow him to go out on loan until the end of the season.