Crewe Alexandra striker Max Clayton has become a wanted man with Arsenal and Manchester United both contemplating an making an offer in the January transfer window.

The 18-year-old is the latest player to emerge from the Crewe academy and has already made close to 50 appearances for the League 1 side since making his debut against Morecambe in April last year.

Max Clayton
Clayton is being linked with Arsenal and Manchester United [Twitter]

The Metro has reported that scouts from Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have been to watch the striker in action on numerous occasions since establishing himself in the first team.

Clayton has already seen former Crewe midfielder Nick Powell move to Manchester United and receive plenty of praise for Sir Alex Ferguson who believes the youngster has a big future at Old Trafford.

The pair came through the youth ranks together at Crewe and quickly managed to demonstrate the talent in the first team as they helped the side gain promotion from League Two via the play-off final.

Clayton scored in the semi-final against Southend which helped send Crewe to Wembley where Powell scored a stunning goal which gained the club promotion and helped him secure a move to Manchester United.

Clayton has remained at Gresty Road and has scored four goals in 16 appearances this season, further highlighting his ability and once again bringing him to the attention of Premier League sides.

The report in the Metro states that Arsenal sent scouts to watch the young striker in action against Walsall and Portsmouth earlier this month; manager Arsene Wenger was then handed a detailed dossier on Clayton.

Clayton has been compared heavily to former Manchester United striker Michael Owen, with his stature and finishing ability similar to the current Stoke striker.

It is a comparison that Clayton is well aware of and he has always stated that he would like to emulate the career of the former England striker.

"As a schoolboy, he has always been my favourite player," the England Under-19 international revealed to BBC Stoke "To get mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Owen is unbelievable.

"To be compared to him is brilliant. It gives me belief. If people think I'm like him, hopefully I can be a good player too.

"The way that Michael Owen plays is exactly how Dario Gradi wanted me to play when he first put me in the team, playing on the shoulder and scoring the goals."

Crewe manager Steve Davis has admitted that there have been clubs watching Clayton in action, but he stressed that the striker would only be sold when he was ready to push for first team football.

"I've had no inquiries about Max, only people watching, so it's only a rumour. He's not ready to go anywhere," Davis said. "When the situation is right he will leave to go in somebody's first team."