Amani Richards turned 17 in November, making him eligible for a professional contract with Arsenal. The striker has since signed that deal, with the club confirming the news on Wednesday.
Richards spoke to the club website about the deal after signing, admitting his childhood support of the Gunners makes it all the more special for him.
“It’s a surreal feeling, especially because it’s my boyhood club and I grew up supporting them,” Richards said.
“I had a lot of conversations with Per and many other people at the club and I felt like they believed in me a lot and this was the best step for me in my journey.”
Richards kicked off his Arsenal career in style, scoring three goals and winning a couple of penalties in his first 275 minutes on the pitch for the u18s last season.
The then-16-year-old went on to score a couple of goals in pre-season for the u18s, but he hasn’t had much of a chance in the competitive campaign just yet.
Khayon Edwards has been in scintillating form for the u18s, scoring 14 goals and assisting four at this early stage of the campaign. It’s hard for Richards to get ahead of his centre-forward rival right now.
Still, the former Chelsea youngster has been making some progress recently, earning his first start of the campaign and capping it with a goal.
It would also be a good thing for Amani Richards if the pathway was cleared a bit ahead of him.
He scored a fantastic goal at the weekend, his first u18 start of the season. He looks ready for regular u18 football, if Edwards can step up more often. pic.twitter.com/e8cDOyyIsZ
— Dan Critchlow (@afcDW) December 1, 2021
As mentioned in the tweet above, it would be a boost for Richards if Folarin Balogun went on loan in January, setting off a knock-on effect in the younger age groups.
Edwards would likely be called up to u23 action more often, and Richards could take Edwards’ place in the u18s.
Either way, Richards is only just 17, right now he has plenty of time and a fresh new contract to celebrate.