REVEALED: The little known Man United and Arsenal young stars that could transform their clubs

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As two of English football's biggest clubs, it remains one of the hardest tasks for academy players to cut through and make the grade. 

The standards are incredibly high and that is why those that coaches are excited about behind the scenes really make you stand up and take notice. 

As the two first teams do battle at Old Trafford today in a game of huge significance, particularly for Arsenal amid their title battle with Man City, there will be teenagers watching from the stands that know they will soon be taking part, and in some cases, dominating this fixture in years to come. 

Arsenal have boasted a 14-year-old in their U18s under Jack Wilshere, while Manchester United have taken a handful of their U18s to be a regular part of first team training alongside the likes of Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.

Mail Sport picks out five young stars from both sides that could transform their sides in years to come... 

Manchester United have teenage talents like Harry Amass (left) knocking on the first team

Manchester United have teenage talents like Harry Amass (left) knocking on the first team

Manchester United have teenage talents like Harry Amass (left) knocking on the first team

Ethan Nwaneri is among a host of exciting rising star coming through Arsenal's academy

Ethan Nwaneri is among a host of exciting rising star coming through Arsenal's academy

SHEA LACEY, 17

Recently rewarded with his first professional deal - a five-year contract keeping him at Old Trafford until at least 2029 - tricky 17-year-old winger Shea Lacey has got coaches purring at Manchester United.

The Liverpool-born wide man has regularly been pushed up to train with the first team and is regarded as one of the most exciting players in the academy right now.

His game closely mirrors that of Phil Foden with the way he can glide past players, as well as his low centre of gravity and close control that the Man City man has perfected in recent years.

Viewed internally as being capable of cracking the first team for his senior debut next season such is his huge potential.

Shea Lacey has coaches at Manchester United purring, such is his potential as a wide player

Shea Lacey has coaches at Manchester United purring, such is his potential as a wide player

HARRY AMASS, 17

Another teenager with bags of room to grow, highly-rated left back Harry Amass continues to knock on the door of the first team.

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Recommended by scout Stephen Ajewole, United moved quick to beat Chelsea to Amass' signature last summer when picking him up from Watford.

He made the bench for Watford's first team at the age of 15 and has always proven to be someone who can play above his age group, regularly playing for United's Under-21s this season, as well as being involved in numerous first team squads.

Amass, who is on a deal through to June 2027, has a good burst of pace and is technically very good on the ball, comfortable to drift inside as well as take his marker to the byline.   

His challenge now is to work on his body physically to be ready to deal with the Premier League's best wingers.

AMIR IBRAGIMOV, 16

If there is one player folk at United are getting giddy about the potential of it's Ibragimov.

The 16-year-old was playing for the U18s at just 14 and was training with United's first team at the age of 15.

Likened to Wayne Rooney for his vision and his ability to pick a pass in attack, Ibragimov's long term future looks to be at No 10 where he can run a game and not be burdened by a heap of defensive responsibilities.

Amir Ibragimov is a rising star for both Manchester United and England's youth teams

Amir Ibragimov is a rising star for both Manchester United and England's youth teams

He glides effortlessly past players but he also has a bit of bite to him, snapping into tackles much like Rooney would often do.

United have been very high on Ibragimov, who is eligible to represent both Russia and England, for years now, so much so he was given a pre-scholarship deal as a show of faith when he was just 14. 

A first team debut next season already feels like a foregone conclusion.

ZACH BAUMANN, 17

A player who is drawing parallels to Adam Wharton at Crystal Palace, Baumann is a really clever central midfielder that is pushing to join Kobbie Mainoo in the first team.

One of his stand-out qualities is that he is always so composed on the ball, never appearing under duress, and he can pick a pass with a good eye.

United are not short on options in central midfield and that is a barrier he will have to overcome but his technique is being marvelled at internally and the challenge to Baumann now is can he add the physicality to his game that is required to make it at the top level.

KAI ROONEY, 14

Given his dad is Manchester United's all-time leading goalscorer, there is definitely a great deal of hope that Kai Rooney can surge all the way through the academy and eventually end up in the first team.

He's much younger - and got a longer route to get there - than some others on this list but there is no doubting the work Rooney Jnr is putting in.

The teenager was recently in the stands to watch the Under-18s in the Premier League Cup final and he never stopped asking questions to Darren Fletcher sat next to him.

Fourteen-year-old Kai Rooney has a contract with Puma and scored 56 goals in 2021-22

Fourteen-year-old Kai Rooney has a contract with Puma and scored 56 goals in 2021-22 

A goalscorer like his dad, Rooney scored a hat-trick and added two assists in the U14's 6-4 win over Everton earlier this season.

Wind the clock back even further and when he was playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo Jr, the son of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, he scored a staggering 56 goals in his first full season with United's U12s.

Rooney Jnr has all the attributes to eventually crack the first team.

ARSENAL 

CHIDO OBI-MARTIN, 16

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The forward is one of the leading prospects in this country, having scored 29 goals in 17 matches across the Arsenal Under-18s and Under 19s teams.

Obi-Martin made headlines in November when he scored 10 goals against Liverpool Under-16s.

He has consistently played above his age group, last season playing twice for the Under-18s while he was an Under-15 player.

Arsenal are now in talks with Obi-Martin, who last month joined the same agency that represents Bukayo Saka, about signing a first professional contract.

Due to Football Association rules, he has to wait until his 17th birthday to sign such a deal. Those rules don't apply to other European nations, where the age limit is 16.

A number of clubs are subsequently trying to lure him away, including Bayern Munich.

Obi-Martin, who has represented both England and Denmark, has great finishing ability and the size to compete with those older than him.

Arsenal youngster Chido Obi-Martin (above) scored 10 goals against Liverpool's youth team

Arsenal youngster Chido Obi-Martin (above) scored 10 goals against Liverpool's youth team

MAX DOWMAN, 14

Don't be fooled by the age. Dowman has already been compared with Martin Odegaard and Mikel Arteta invited him to train with the first team earlier this month.

One picture circulating on social media saw the teenager up against Ben White.

Technically still an Under-14 player, Dowman is already well ahead of his peers and has broken into Arsenal's Under-18s this season.

He is a skilful player with a good eye for a pass, as seen by his five assists in five appearances at Under-18 level.

Dowman made his England Under-16 debut last month and already has an adidas boot deal.

On his age, Jack Wilshere said: 'There's always a concern when fielding such a young player in these matches, but if you're good enough, you're old enough.'

Despite his age, rising star Max Dowman has already been compared to Martin Odegaard

Despite his age, rising star Max Dowman has already been compared to Martin Odegaard

ETHAN NWANERI, 17

Nwaneri is likely to be the next cab off the academy rank into the first team and is in contention to join Arsenal for their US pre-season tour.

He signed a professional contract in the week he turned 17 upon returning from England Under-17 duty. That keenness to have him tied down shows how highly the Gunners rate him.

The attacking midfielder made a cameo in the 6-0 thrashing of West Ham, a rarity owing to Arteta's reluctance to play academy graduates too soon.

He remains the youngest player to make his debut in the Premier League, aged 15 years and 181 days, which was against Brentford in September 2022.

Nwaneri has played above his age group ever since Under-13 level. He has excellent dribbling ability and looks to make things happen when on the ball.

Nwaneri (pictured) became the Premier League's youngest ever player last season

Nwaneri (pictured) became the Premier League's youngest ever player last season

AMARIO COZIER-DUBERRY, 18

He wears the No 7 shirt and, just like the first-team superstar Bukayo Saka, plays on the right wing.

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Cozier-Duberry drew comparisons to Saka this week after a video went rival of him cutting onto his right foot and rifling the ball home in a similar manner.

They both have a similar low centre of gravity and change of pace.

He joined the Gunners in 2019 and progressed through the youth ranks before signing his first pro contract two years ago.

Cozier-Duberry has been heavily linked to Newcastle and is being followed by clubs in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Scotland and Spain.

Arsenal will face a battle to keep him if there's no perceived pathway to first-team football.

On Friday he won the Premier League 2 player of the month award after scoring four goals.

Arsenal face a battle to keep Amario Cozier-Duberry if there is no clear path to the first team

Arsenal face a battle to keep Amario Cozier-Duberry if there is no clear path to the first team

REUELL WALTERS, 19

Walters' fortitude is seen by the start of his career. He joined Tottenham in March 2015 but had left in June 2019 after feeling 'lost'.

According to The Athletic, he told his father: 'Dad, I just feel really lost. At football, I don't know where I am'.

Down the line, Manchester United were ready to take him on, before deciding that other positions were a priority, and he then found himself on loan at Charlton Atheltic.

Walters got a trial with Arsenal in August 2020 and joined the Under-16s. His career has blossomed ever since. The versatile defender signed his first pro contract in 2022.

The following summer, he was part of Arteta's pre-season squad, during which he made his first senior appearances.

Mainly used as a right-back, he is also very comfortable playing in the heart of the defence. Oleksandr Zinchenko praised on him Rio Ferdinand's podcast.

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