Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe was rewarded with a new deal after impressing in the first-team during the Gunners’ pre-season tour of Singapore, but the teenager may have to be patient for opportunities when the Premier League campaign begins.
Smith Rowe made a real name for himself after scoring an impressive solo goal for Arsenal against Atletico Madrid, but he’s keeping his feet on the ground and won’t let himself get carried away. The contract extension is certainly a good sign he’s progressing well at Arsenal, but the hard work starts now.
The 18-year-old has a lot of competition for a starting place in the midfield – Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Lucas Torreira, Mohamed Elneny, Matteo Guendouzi – but he is hoping to pick up some minutes with the first-team this season.
Smith Rowe has racked up 26 appearances for the u18s and 11 for the u23s and now finds himself on the fringes of the senior squad. He’s under no illusions that next season will see him predominantly in the reserve team, but he’s hoping to get a small amount of playing time under Unai Emery.
“For this season I’m hoping to play for the under-23s, but my main target is to get minutes in the first team, progress, play well and impress the boss so I can maybe get chances in the Premier League one day. I need to stay focused and keep my head down,” he said.
Having a taste of first-team football should motivate Smith-Rowe. The opportunity to play with such talented individuals is invaluable for a youngster and he admitted it’s been a lifelong dream to be in this situation.
“The new head coach really inspires me so hopefully I can get chances in the first-team to prove how good I am. Training with the players that Arsenal have is a dream for me, something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid. To get the opportunity to train and play with them on tour was just an unbelievable feeling for me.
“I just feel so much more comfortable. The players are so welcoming. No one’s tried to leave me out of the group or anything, so when I’m at Arsenal, it feels like a family. Everyone’s just so together and I think that’s helped me so much on and off the pitch.”
Smith Rowe has impressed in the first-team when called upon and has seen his fine form rewarded with a contract extension. He’s on the right path but should also be patient for opportunities this season given the players currently ahead of him in the pecking order.