Gunners setback in England striker starlet chase

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Arsenal could miss out on Crewe Alexandra starlet Nick Powell after Dario Gradi insisted the player was staying in League Two.

16-year-old Powell has earned rave reviews for his England U17 performances, with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reportedly keen on bringing the Young Lion to north London.

With only two senior appearances to his name at Gresty Road, experienced Gradi is keen to keep the teenager with the Railwaymen as he looks to blood his next superstar. Dean Ashton and David Platt are just two youngsters to begin their career under Gradi, a Football League legend.

"I've never spoken to Arsene Wenger in my life other than a passing hello at the Dorchester in London at an awards evening once so I certainly haven't spoken to him about Nick," the veteran manager told the club's official website.

"We have this situation a lot with some of our youngsters, but we always do what is best for them and unless any one of my players is going to move and play in the first team, I will not even listen to offers."

Press speculation has been mounting over the future of Powell, with Arsenal originally linked with the player as far back as May.

Gradi was forced to issue a 'not for sale' statement earlier in the year, but the Gunners' interest is thought to be strong as they look to continue building the academy at the Emirates.

Arsenal have invested heavily in their youth system under Frenchman Wenger, and the News of the World previously hinted that a move for Powell could cost the Gunners in the region of £3 million.

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