Arsenal have signed up a young player for their pre-academy who until a few months ago was still attending nursery.
Five-year-old Zayn Ali Salman, was only four years old when the North London club came calling. And now, despite being just four years old, he competes for Arsenal against players almost double his age.
In an interview with the BBC’s Asian Network, Salman’s coach Austin Schofield explained that when they put him in with people his age he was head and shoulders above the rest, and was doing things that were far beyond any of his cohort.
After being spotted by Arsenal Talent Scout Stephen Deans, Deans told the BBC that he was shocked to hear that Salman was still in nursery.
Salmans talent was not a fluke either. Deans explained that when they brought him into Arsenal training sessions he was doing what he had been scouted doing constantly with them as well, meaning it was no one-off.
Five-year-old Salmans told the BBC he was playing against seven, eight and nine-year-olds, but that it felt really bad because it was “a bit hard.”
Since joining Arsenal, the BBC also report that Salman has also received offers from other big clubs.
He is the youngest ever recruit to the Arsenal pre-academy, a record that will likely never be beaten, let alone matched, and he could one day join the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe as Hale End graduates.
While this story is no doubt a feel-good story, the potential precedent it sets could cause a huge shakeup in how football clubs recruit youth talent, for better or for worse.