Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has waxed lyrical about Emile Smith Rowe following last night’s Europa League group-stage win, describing him as a player with an “incredible talent”.
The 20-year-old is considered one of the best young talents at the Emirates Stadium and made six appearances for the Gunners across the Europa League, League Cup and Premier League last season.
In January, Smith Rowe joined Huddersfield on loan until the end of the season and enjoyed a fruitful spell at the John Smith’s Stadium, making 18 Championship appearances and claiming two goals and three assists.
The playmaker wasn’t sent on loan this season and, although has had to bide his time for game time at Arsenal this term, he finally made his first senior appearance of the campaign in last night’s 3-0 win over Molde.
Smith Rowe came on in the 75th minute, replacing Alexandre Lacazette, and made his mark by setting up Folarin Balogun for the game’s third goal, prompting Arteta to sing his player’s praises after the match.
“Emile is a player with an incredible talent,” the Spaniard told the official Arsenal website. “He’s the got ability and the quality.
“Mentally, it is always a challenge because the demands are so high, the pressure is high to play here and you need to hit those levels to become an Arsenal player.
“It’s down to him as well. I really like him and he’s a player that if we are a little bit patient [with], we have a great player there.”
Football London claimed earlier this year that, in Smith Rowe, “Arsenal already have their Mesut Ozil successor amid creativity concerns in Mikel Arteta’s squad”, not to mention the youngster enjoys playing at No. 10 the most and idolises the 2014 World Cup winner.
As things stand, there is a lot of competition in midfield, but his impressive cameo last night will have been food for thought for Arteta and potentially cause selection headaches of a good kind, given how much talent is emerging at Arsenal alongside a strong senior team.