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Ajax 'working on new deal for Arsenal-linked Jorrel Hato'

Ajax 'working on new deal for Arsenal-linked Jorrel Hato'
© Reuters
Ajax are reportedly working on tying 17-year-old Jorrel Hato down to a new contract amid interest from Arsenal and other top European teams.

Ajax are reportedly looking to fend off interest in Arsenal-linked Jorrel Hato by tying the 17-year-old down to a new deal in Amsterdam.

The teenager was born nearly two full years after the Gunners' most recent Premier League title triumph, but despite his inexperience, he is already a nailed-on starter for Ajax most weeks.

Hato joined the Ajax youth system in 2018 and rapidly rose through the youth ranks owing to his striking potential, and he has already played 49 times for the senior squad in all competitions.

Hato has one goal and three assists to show from those matches - netting once and setting up two more strikes in the current Eredivisie campaign, in which he has started all 23 of their contests.

The 2006-born defender also completed every minute of Ajax's Europa League group-stage campaign, and he has remarkably donned the captain's armband on three occasions for John van 't Schip's side, including in the weekend's 2-0 loss to AZ Alkmaar.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates after the match on February 4, 2024© Reuters

Hato is unsurprisingly the youngest-ever player to captain Ajax, and the Dutchman - who already stands at 6ft tall - bagged an assist on his Netherlands debut in a 6-0 Euro 2024 qualifying thrashing of Gibraltar last November.

Primarily a centre-back, Hato is also comfortable on the left-hand side of the rearguard and has inevitably attracted glances from European heavyweights, namely Premier League title-chasers Arsenal.

Ajax only have the 17-year-old under contract until 2025, meaning that the faltering Eredivisie giants could be pressured into a summer sale if no new terms are agreed in the coming months.

However, the Evening Standard reports that Ajax are doing their utmost to tie their highly-rated academy product down to a new deal, which would include a pay rise to reflect his growing status in the team.

Ajax are said to be aware of interest from Arsenal and other parties and are braced to receive bids for the centre-back in the summer, but they are holding out hope that he could be convinced to stay a little while longer.

Arsenal defender Jurrien Timber on July 19, 2023© Reuters

Should the Gunners' pursuit of Hato prove successful, though, the Dutchman could follow in the footsteps of compatriot Jurrien Timber, who departed Amsterdam for Arsenal last summer in a deal that could fetch up to £38.5m.

Hato has already expressed his desire to join Arsenal or a club of similar calibre in the future, telling ELF Voetbal in October: "Unfortunately he [Timber] was seriously injured in his first Premier League game for Arsenal, but he is still young and has a bright future ahead of him.

"In any case, the move to Arsenal was a wonderful one for him. It is also my dream to one day make such a transfer, but I realise that I still have a very long way to go."

Timber won the Community Shield on his competitive debut for Arsenal, but with less than an hour gone on his first Premier League appearance against Nottingham Forest, the 22-year-old suffered a gut-wrenching cruciate ligament injury.

Timber has been making great strides in his recovery over the last six months, though, and Mikel Arteta is hopeful that he will return to action before the end of the season.

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Ajax defender Jorrel Hato pictured in October 2023
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