John Barnes has sent a message to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta over Ethan Nwaneri amid comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Nwaneri became the youngest player in Premier League history after making his debut for the Gunners in their victory over Brentford on Sunday.
Nwaneri, 15, replaced Arsenal goalscorer Fabio Vieira in injury-time after being included in Arteta’s squad for the trip to Brentford.
The midfielder, who was born in March 2007, was called up for first-team training for the first time on Saturday.
As Nwaneri made Premier League history, Arsenal fans sang: ‘He’s going to school in the morning!’
Arsenal fast-tracked the decision to push Nwaneri into the first-team due to interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.
But Barnes has told Arteta to ‘leave him alone’ and feels Nwaneri is not ‘going to go in the team and play every week’ like Messi and Ronaldo when they started.
‘If you look at the future, the future looks bright for Arsenal in terms of a lot of the young players,’ Barnes told BonusCodeBets.
‘Saka, you know, Martinelli, Odegaard. They’ve got a good, young team. But a 15-year-old being given his debut?
‘You should leave him alone because of course, Theo Walcott made his debut at 16 and this young boy coming in is not going to be anywhere near Arsenal’s first team to be honest with you, when push comes to shove.
‘It’s great for Arsenal to say we’ve got good young players coming through.
‘But all of a sudden, I don’t want people to then put so much pressure on this young boy because he made his debut to say he should be playing all the time.
‘It’s great for him and great for Arsenal for the future.
‘I’m not saying it’s a gimmick because he’s good enough to obviously be playing but I don’t think it’s a situation whereby you’re looking at a Lionel Messi at 16 or Cristiano Ronaldo knowing that he’s going to go in the team and play every week.
‘So it’s good news at Arsenal pushing their youngsters through but I don’t want to put pressure on this young boy and all of a sudden overemphasise that he should be playing this season or even next season.’