Chris Willock signs first Arsenal contract

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Arsenal have announced that 17-year-old striker Chris Willock has signed his first professional contract with the Gunners.

Willock has been a regular for Arsenal's Under-18 side this season, and has played in six of the Under-19s' seven UEFA Youth League matches.

A highly-rated prospect, Willock played the first half of Arsenal's first-team friendly against Boreham Wood in July, and will now have his sights set on establishing himself in the club's Under-21 side after committing his future to the Gunners.

"Everyone at Arsenal would like to congratulate Chris on his first contract, and we look forward to his continued development at the club," read a statement on Arsenal's official website.

News that Willock has signed his first contract with Arsenal comes days after the Gunners announced new deals for fellow striker Benik Afobe and midfielder Francis Coquelin, both of whom have penned long-term contracts at the Emirates Stadium.

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The north London outfit also recently confirmed that young forward Kaylen Hinds has signed a professional contract, news which Willock retweeted on to his Twitter timeline.

Youth team progression

Both Hinds and Willock will continue their development in Arsenal's youth ranks before being considered as first-team options by manager Arsene Wenger.

However, just as he did last summer, Wenger may opt to take a closer look at both young strikers in pre-season.

Arsenal currently have plenty of options in attacking positions, including Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott plus the aforementioned Akpom.

There's also a real possibility that Wenger will add at least one experienced striker to his ranks this summer. It's understood the Gunners' boss remains keen on Uruguay international Luis Suarez, who joined Barcelona in a £75 million deal from Liverpool last summer.

Arsenal's top-four hopes

Arsenal are currently sixth in the Premier League table following their 2-1 defeat to north London rivals Tottenham on Saturday afternoon - a result which dents their hopes of securing a top-four finish.

However, despite the fact that was their sixth league defeat of the campaign, the Gunners are still only two points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, who secured a fortunate 1-1 draw against West Ham on Sunday afternoon.

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