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Arsenal 'set to sign 16-year-old defender Brayden Clarke'

Arsenal 'set to sign 16-year-old defender Brayden Clarke'
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Arsenal are reportedly set to sign 16-year-old defender Brayden Clarke following the teenager's exit from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Arsenal are on the verge of tying up a deal for 16-year-old defender Brayden Clarke, according to a report.

The 2007-born defender has risen through the youth ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers since joining the Molineux outfit in 2017, and he was already playing in the Under-18 Premier League as a 14-year-old.

Clarke scored one goal in six appearances in the competition for Wolves' Under-18s during the 2022-23 season, and he turned out another nine times for the West Midlands outfit in the opening months of the current campaign.

The Welshman is the son of former Scotland international defender Nigel Quashie, who played 14 times for his country and also represented Portsmouth, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.

However, Clarke - who can play as a centre-back or right-back - made his most recent appearance for Wolves against Manchester United on December 2 and recently confirmed on Instagram that he would be leaving the club.

"After seven years at Wolves, the time has come for me to move onto a new chapter," the teenager wrote. "I want to thank everybody who has helped me along the journey and I wish all of my teammates at Wolves the best of luck for the future."

A host of Premier League teams apparently showed an interest in signing Clarke, who has played 15 times for Wales Under-17s and started all of their three group games at last year's European Championships.

However, The Athletic reports that Arsenal have won the race to snap up the defender, and the Gunners will not pay a single penny for his signature due to his status as a free agent.

Newcastle are said to have been one of four other Premier League sides hoping to convince Clarke to join, but he will now don the red and white of Arsenal in their famed Hale End academy.

Clarke - who left Wolves without making a first-team debut - will link up with Arsenal's existing prospects in North London, including the likes of Ethan Nwaneri, Myles Lewis-Skelly and Amario Cozier-Duberry.

Nwaneri - who was born just over three months before Clarke - became the Premier League's youngest player at 15 years and 181 days against Brentford in September 2022 and also enjoyed a cameo role in Arsenal's 6-0 thumping of West Ham United earlier this year.

Arsenal tied Nwaneri down to a new contract last year amid growing interest from elsewhere in England, while 17-year-old midfielder Lewis-Skelly penned his first professional deal in October.

The Gunners are also working to renew Cozier-Duberry, whose deal runs out at the end of the season, and the attacker is reportedly attracting interest from Newcastle and Borussia Dortmund.

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