Arsenal have announced that highly-rated youngster Emile Smith Rowe has signed a new long-term contract, believed to be a five-year deal. Smith Rowe will now wear the legendary number 10 shirt, vacated by Mesut Özil.
Smith Rowe is the latest in a line of talented youngsters who have committed their futures to the club. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were the first last season, while Folarian Balogun recently renewed his own contract at the tail-end of the current campaign.
Smith Rowe’s rise has been an astonishing sight to behold. First introduced into the first team setup under Unai Emery, Smith Rowe announced himself with a brilliant goal in Arsenal’s pre-season game against Paris Saint-Germain.
Following a challenging campaign, Smith Rowe was loaned out to German outfit RB Leipzig, but not before notching three goals in six matches for Arsenal.
Injury cut his time in Germany short, so he was loaned out to Huddersfield Town for the majority of last season, with Huddersfield’s manager, Danny Cowley, speaking very highly of the youngster.
“We have to be very protective of him which none of us like. I actually boo myself when I take him off, because it’s not something I want to do!”Danny Cowley, Smith Rowe’s temporary manager during his loan spell at Huddersfield.
Following a stagnant few games in which Arsenal failed to create as many chances as necessary and with Mesut Özil’s continued exile from the team, Mikel Arteta turned to Smith Rowe for inspiration in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Chelsea in December, which turned out to be a masterstroke.
Since then, Smith Rowe has been a mainstay in the team and his first goal for the club, coming against West Bromwich Albion in a 3-1 home win, was followed by an admittedly lucky goal against Chelsea in the return fixture.
Though the temporary loan of Martin Ødegaard provided Smith Rowe with a lot of competition and caused him to be pushed out wide, Smith Rowe has proved himself to be exceptional and has acquitted himself masterfully in Mikel Arteta’s new-look team.
It remains to be seen if Arsenal will add another creative player to the side, having failed in their attempts to bring in Emiliano Buendía from Norwich, although a permenant move for Ødegaard remains on the table. Though a new player is likely to come in to provide competition for Smith Rowe, it should not be overstated just how hard it will be displace the youngster, especially in his current form.