Arsenal are interested in Crewe Alexandra starlet Max Clayton, according to reports in the Daily Mail. The Gunners have scouted the Alex youngster and could make a £3 million bid.
18-year-old Clayton has drawn favourable comparisons to Michael Owen, thanks to his pace, assured first touch and composed finishing. He could become the second-straight Crewe academy product to make the jump from the lower divisions to the English Premier League.
In the summer, forward Nick Powell made the step up after Manchester United beat Arsenal to secure his services. The club have an outstanding record of producing young talent.
The Railway Men have also developed the likes of David Platt, Danny Murphy and Dean Ashton in the past. Developing quality young prospects is something Gunners boss Arsene Wenger adheres to.
Scouting Clayton is a clear statement of intent that Wenger intends to continue Arsenal's policy of fast-tracking youngsters through the ranks.
That's a daring move given seven years without a trophy and the recent levels of supporter unrest that came to a head at the annual shareholders meeting. Building through youth is a key part of Wenger's philosophy and Clayton certainly has the ability to join the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny, who have all been promoted to the first team as youngsters.
Clayton is a diminutive, fleet-footed striker in the mould of the type of pacey, technically-gifted attackers Wenger has targeted in recent years. With contract rebel Theo Walcott still yet to agree fresh terms and veterans Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh having fallen out of favour, Wenger has a need for another forward for his attacking rotation.
However, as talented as Clayton is, many Arsenal fans may prefer Wenger targets a more experienced option who can contribute immediately.