Arsenal 'plotting move' for Ajax wonderkid who has captained Dutch giants aged 17

  • The Gunners interested in signing 17-year-old Jorrel Hato
  • Versatile defender can play at centre-back or left-back and is one of Ajax's best young prospects
  • Hato has captained Ajax already and current deal has just 18 months left to run
Jorrel Hato is making waves in Amsterdam
Jorrel Hato is making waves in Amsterdam / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Arsenal are planning to move for one of Europe's most exciting young defenders, Jorrel Hato, but may wait until the summer before formalising their interest in the Ajax teenager, according to a new report.

17-year-old Hato is into the final 18 months of his contract in Amsterdam and has already captained the side despite his tender years.

The Telegraph report that Ajax are keen to tie Hato down to a new long-term contract, with his performances one of the few bright spots of what's been an extremely challenging season for the serial Eredivisie winners.

But Arsenal are understood to be plotting a move of their own for Hato, who can play centre-back or left-back, as Mikel Arteta looks to strengthen his defensive options long-term. The Gunners' hierarchy, spearheaded by sporting director Edu, may wait until the summer to formalise their interest, however, with a deal potentially more difficult to pull off in the January window.

The Gunners have recent experience of dealing with Ajax, signing Jurrien Timber in a deal worth just shy of £40m last summer. But the Dutchman, who has 15 international caps to his name, has featured just once for the club after seriously injuring his knee on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Jurrien Timber
Jurrien Timber was hurt on the first day of the Premier League season and hasn't been seen since / Clive Mason/GettyImages

Timber is expected to return to action before the 2023/24 campaign ends, having stepped up his rehabilitation in recent weeks, and he may have a crucial role to play as Arsenal look to go one better than last season's runners-up finish.

Currently, Arsenal sit fourth in the Premier League table after surprise back-to-back defeats to West Ham United and Fulham, but they are within touching distance of leaders Liverpool, who have a three-point cushion over surprise package Aston Villa.

90min understands that Arsenal are interested in signing a new striker to boost their title chances, with an exit for Eddie Nketiah unlikely unless an interested Premier League club is prepared to pay in the region of £50m.

Arteta may sanction a loan exit for Polish defender Jakub Kiwior, however, who 90min has been told is attracting interest from Serie A giants AC Milan - his release could be contingent on Timber returning to fitness and Arsenal not encountering any other defensive injuries before the window closes on February 1.