Arsenal central midfielder Matt Smith was pictured in training with the Gunners’ first-team yesterday and it isn’t the first time Mikel Arteta has asked him to train with the senior players. We take a look at the 19-year-old’s career so far.
He joined the Hale End academy in 2009 when he was just eight years of age, and he has steadily made his way through the youth ranks of the London club over the past decade.
Smith made his debut for the Under 18s in the 2017/18 season and helped his team to the FA Youth Cup final where Arsenal lost out to Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate. He started the first leg of the final but was an unused substitute in the return fixture.
At the start of the 2018/19 campaign, he was named captain of the Under 18s and it proved to be a successful season as he led his team to the Premier League South title, with five goals and an impressive 14 assists in 22 games.
Smith’s success meant he was promoted to the Under 23 setup on a permanent basis at the beginning of this season. He has featured in 12 matches so far, scoring once and providing three assists.
The teenager has also featured in the EFL Trophy, playing against Peterborough and Cambridge United’s senior sides as the Gunners were knocked out of the group stages at the beginning of November last year.
Smith is a holding midfielder by trade, playing as the deepest lying player in midfield, dictating play with his range of passing. It is not surprising then that Arteta has taken a keen interest in the player.
The Arsenal head coach’s style of play is dependent on having technically gifted players, who can pick out a pass, and Smith would certainly offer something different to the likes of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira.
Whether he’ll be handed his first-team debut as and when the Premier League season resumes, we shall have to wait and see, but it does appear that Arteta has the 19-year-old in his thoughts ahead of a possible return next month.