FORWARDS are all the rage in Arsenal's youth team.
In recent times the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun have broken into the first team after impressing for the junior Gunners.
The next top talent who could follow in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to make the transition to senior level is the free-scoring Khayon Edwards.
At the turn of the year, Edwards, 18, was called up to the Under-23s after blitzing all at U18 level.
Talks accelerated last month over offering the starlet his first pro contract – an upgrade on his current scholarship deal – with the likes of Chelsea and Leeds United monitoring the situation.
Now, Arsenal have secured his future on a new longterm deal – snubbing offers from elsewhere to stay.
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Back in September, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta promoted two youth stars to train with the first team.
One was Mexican playmaker Marcelo Flores, who was included in the squad for the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The other was Edwards, a prolific striker who just can't stop scoring and has been with the club since the age of five.
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This campaign he has shown he has outgrown the U18s with some blistering displays.
In the U18 Premier League, he has 17 goals in as many games – registering six assists in the process.
He scored a hat-trick against Norwich back in October, and was the hero against North London rivals in Tottenham by netting twice.
And when the young Gunners were missing Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson, and Mika Biereth, Edwards entered the fray at U23 level.
He wasn't overawed either. The striker scored an equaliser to earn the Gunners a draw against a then-table topping Hammers.
Guided by Mertesacker
Under the guidance of manager of the Arsenal Academy Per Mertesacker, Edwards is thriving.
Edwards revealed in the Arsenal programme: "Getting advice from someone like Per who's played on the biggest stages and had an incredibly successful career means a lot to me – and I want to take everything he says on board.
"He's created such a positive and welcoming environment in the academy and I've got to thank him and everyone else for that, because I love every moment I spend learning and training here."
With that in mind, it's no wonder he's happy to sign on with the club.
And perhaps it won't be long before he's starring alongside Hale End graduates Saka and Smith Rowe in the first team.
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