What does the future hold for Emile Smith Rowe at Arsenal?

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and AFC Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on March 04, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and AFC Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on March 04, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

In a busy transfer window for Arsenal, Hale End graduate, Emile Smith Rowe is being linked with Premier League clubs, including Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United.

ESR’s frustrating campaign combined with Arsenal’s ambition led some to believe that the crafty midfielder would perhaps move on this summer with the Gunners poised to reshuffle their personnel in several positions.

Murmurs increased of a potential departure from the Emirates as 2022/23 drew to a close, but those rumours were shut down when it was revealed Mikel Arteta was keen on retaining the Englishman this summer.

However, is this a good move for both parties and what should fans expect of ESR in 2023/24?

Smith Rowe’s breakthrough brilliance

Smith Rowe broke through midway through the 2020/21 season. After coming back to Arsenal from his loan spell at Huddersfield in the Championship, fans were excited to see the teenager’s potential.

After featuring in numerous games that season and cementing his place in the starting XI, Smith Rowe became a true fan favourite when Arsenal played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge towards the of the season after starring in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day. The midfielder punished his current teammate, Jorginho, for his poor back pass and scored the only goal of the game to see Arsenal win 1-0.

The following campaign, after being rewarded with the #10 shirt, Smith Rowe remained a key man in Arteta’s side. He featured in 33 league games and scored ten goals, eight more than his previous season and record total.

Injury impacts

After emerging as one of the leading men in Arteta’s project, Smith Rowe’s impact took a turn for the worst as his 2022 was blighted by a groin injury which resulted in surgery.

Since the 2018/19 season, Smith Rowe has obtained an injury in every season, the most common one being his aforementioned groin. The midfielder opened up on his injury in an interview with The Times where he explained that he has had this recurring injury since he was 19. Up until his surgery late last year, the Community Shield winner took injections and tablets so he could play football without feeling the pain. However, he understood that he couldn’t take injections for the rest of his career and following last season’s defeat at Old Trafford, it felt logical to undergo surgery on a damaged tendon.

Smith Rowe has been injured for just under a year in total throughout his career. But, hopefully, this number will be reduced and the playmaker will be less injury-prone as he fights for a place in the starting XI next season and beyond.

Emile’s effectiveness

With the Gunners actively looking at advanced midfielders such as Kai Havertz, Xavi Simons and İlkay Gündoğan, questions have been asked over where Smith Rowe will be utilised next term. During his impressive stint during lockdown, ESR was utilised as a left-winger but with Trossard most likely to be Gabriel Martinelli’s understudy, the Englishman isn’t a direct backup in anyone’s position. With that said, Smith Rowe will have to fight numerous people to get into a starting position.

The player has said he sees himself as a #10 or a winger who cuts into the half-space. With these attributes and Arteta seeing him as versatile, Smith Rowe’s bid to find a starting role may be easier with his skillset being suited to most attacking positions. The midfielder also puts in a defensive shift and although tactical setups and roles are tweaked with personnel, Smith Rowe could thrive in Xhaka’s role next season.

Smith-Rowe’s stance

The possibility of Smith Rowe re-entering this Arsenal side would be irrelevant if the player didn’t have the desire or determination to get back in the team. Luckily for Arteta, Smith Rowe is not just a talented footballer, but a determined player who is ready to fight for his place.

After what he described as the “hardest season of my career”, ESR has given Arsenal fans his word that he is willing to fight to get back into the Arsenal team. A reason for him opting to stay is because he feels Arteta and the other players have been “great” with him despite Arteta being critical of himself for not getting the best out of the U17 World Cup Winner.

"“Arsenal are my club and I’m not going to give up until [Arteta] says he doesn’t want me,” he added. “But that’s not the case. He wants me as part of the team and I want to fight for my place and get back in the team.” – Emile Smith Rowe speaking to The Times Football"

The next chapter awaits…

Smith Rowe’s contract does not expire until 2026, but his focus is currently on his involvement in the U21 Euros. England face the Czech Republic in their opening game of the competition and will look to progress past Germany, Isreal, and the Czechs to qualify for the knockout rounds.

After his international duty comes to an end, Smith Rowe is set to join the Arsenal squad for a pre-season match against Nürnberg in Germany before heading to the US for their pre-season tour. This summer, Smith Rowe will be looking for vital game-time to gain match fitness before next season starts.