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Arsenal confirm professional contract for Khayon Edwards

Arsenal confirm professional contract for Khayon Edwards
© Reuters
Arsenal confirm that 18-year-old striker Khayon Edwards has signed his first professional contract with the club amid reported interest from Chelsea.

Arsenal have confirmed that teenage striker Khayon Edwards has signed his first professional contract with the club.

The 18-year-old has risen through the youth ranks at Hale End and enjoyed a brilliant season at Under-18 level, racking up 16 goals from as many league appearances, as well as five assists.

Edwards has also made the step-up to Under-23 level and has made two Premier League 2 appearances in the 2021-22 season, scoring one goal against West Ham United.

Arsenal were due to lose Edwards at the end of the season, though, with Chelsea rumoured to have been keeping tabs on the striker's situation at London Colney.

However, reports emerged earlier this month of the teenager - who has netted 23 times in 41 outings for the Under-18s at Arsenal - signing his first professional deal with Mikel Arteta's side.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta pictured on May 16, 2022© Reuters

Now, the Gunners have confirmed that Edwards has penned professional terms ahead of his 19th birthday in September, as he attempts to force his way into the first-team picture next season.

"Khayon Edwards has signed his first professional contract with the club. The 18-year-old striker joined our pre-academy aged five, and has progressed year on year to become a prolific striker for our youth sides," a statement on arsenal.com read.

"Everyone at the club would like to congratulate Khayon on his first professional contract and we look forward to seeing his continued development."

After committing his future to his boyhood club, Edwards added: "I'm very delighted to have signed my first professional contract.

"I've worked hard for this moment. It's been a very important season for me, but now it's time to step up and prove what I've proved time and time again."

Edwards was pictured wearing a training jersey with the number 77 during his contract signing - the same shirt donned by fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka during his breakthrough season in 2019-20.

Arsenal are set for a major attacking reshuffle ahead of the 2022-23 season, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah set to follow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of the door as free agents.

The duo's departure would leave Folarin Balogun as the only recognised striker in Arsenal's ranks with top-flight experience, as the likes of Mika Biereth and Edwards continue their development.

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus is still thought to be a leading target for Arteta's side, but the Gunners' expected failure to qualify for the Champions League would harm their attempts to sign the 25-year-old.

After Monday's 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United left them fifth in the table and two points behind Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal must beat Everton on the final day of the Premier League season and hope that 20th-placed Norwich City can earn a shock win over Spurs in order to clinch fourth place.

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Arsenal U21's Khayon Edwards in action with Chelsea U21's Brodi Hughes in January 2022
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