Emile Smith Rowe will make himself available for Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States later this month, according to Football.London.
Despite having less than a week off after playing for England in the European Under 21 Championships, the midfielder is keen to get back training straight away in order to impress manager Mikel Arteta.
It was looking likely that Smith Rowe would leave the Emirates earlier in the summer but former Goal reporter Charles Watts recently revealed that Arteta now wants the 22-year-old to stay:
“He’s certainly not on the Arsenal scrapheap. Mikel Arteta has told him that he wants him to stay. I think going into the summer, I thought there was a good chance he could probably go… But by all accounts, they want him to stay and are going to give him an opportunity, which I’m really happy with.”
“We all kind of forget how good Emile Smith Rowe is and how good he was when he burst onto the scene. Injuries have obviously hampered him a lot but he’s got so much to give. He’s such a good player. He’s so smart, he’s technically excellent, he can finish. And he’s got everything you need to be successful in this Arsenal team.”
Injuries were not the only issue for Smith Rowe
While Watts is right to acknowledge that fitness problems “hampered” the England international last campaign, it should be pointed out that he was available from mid-January until May.
Arteta has since admitted that he should have handed Smith Rowe and other squad players more game time in the second half of the season, but you do understand why that didn’t happen.
With the Gunners completely focused on a title challenge, it could have been a risk making too many changes to the starting lineup, but it did leave Smith Rowe out in the cold.
There is a lot of competition for places in Arsenal’s midfield
You do still wonder how many opportunities Smith Rowe will get even though Arteta wants him to stick around. In terms of the no.10 position, there are three other players he will be competing with.
In addition to captain Martin Odegaard, both Fabio Vieira and new signing Kai Havertz could be deployed in that role. The German will also be ahead of Smith Rowe in the pecking order for the ‘advanced 8’ but the departure of Granit Xhaka does mean there are more possibilities for him to play there.
Out wide on the left, where Smith Rowe had a lot of success during the 2021/22 season, things are not particularly promising either. Gabriel Martinelli is clearly first choice, while January arrival Leandro Trossard is his understudy. Reiss Nelson has also signed a new contract, making it even more of a challenge to get minutes.