Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has urged homegrown star Emile Smith Rowe to leave the club in pursuit of more playing time elsewhere at a crucial stage of his career.
Academy graduate Smith Rowe has so far struggled for minutes this season, making just 11 appearances and only two starts in all competitions so far this season.
While we can largely attribute his lack of game time to his unfortunate injury record, it looks increasingly clear that Mikel Arteta simply does not trust him to give him more consistent minutes in the team, which we have seen this season.
The 23-year-old has impressed on the few occasions that he has come off the bench, showing glimpses of excellence, but it looks like, regardless of how he plays, his role in the side will remain minimal for the foreseeable future.
With this in mind, and Smith Rowe at a vital stage of his development where game time is essential, Gunners legend Ray Parlour, affectionately known as the 'Romford Pele', has waded in on the debate and urged the three-time England international to leave the club.
Smith-Rowe "going to regret" limited playing time, says Ray Parlour
Parlour knows a thing or two about what it takes to make it at Arsenal, having come through the Hale End academy before making 466 appearances for the club.
Speaking to InstantCasino, Parlour issued a warning to the English midfielder amidst uncertainty over his Arsenal future, saying: "Smith Rowe might come to a stage in his career, and say, 'look I need to play. I need to play on a regular basis now. I’m getting that little bit older. I’m going to regret it if I don’t play on a regular basis'."
He also went on to suggest that Arteta would understand his situation and that the club may look to cash in on him: "I think Mikel Arteta has been there as a footballer himself. If he doesn't stand in his way, then Arsenal will try and do a deal and get the most money they can for him [Smith Rowe]."
Speaking perhaps from personal experience, the 50-year-old shed some light on how Smith Rowe may feel in his current situation: "It’s frustrating for players, it really is. Sitting on that sideline, not playing on a regular basis, in this day and age you need 26 in the squad. The games now come thick and fast and they’ll probably be used in certain games and maybe come off the bench, but Smith Rowe is really relying on injuries to get a chance.”
There is a cruel irony in the fact that Smith Rowe may now be relying on the very thing that has derailed his career (injuries) to have a chance of more consistent playing time.
It would be a sad end to the story
Smith Rowe joined the Arsenal academy at the age of ten, following two years at southeast London side Glebe FC, with this year marking his 14th with the Gunners.
Speaking to 'The Non-League Paper' in July 2023, Glebe FC founder Rocky McMillan claimed that ESR "had everything", when reflecting on his time at the Foxes as a youngster.
After making his debut for Arsenal back in November 2018, he was destined for greatness and many thought that he would follow in the footsteps of those before him, like Jack Wilshire and Cesc Fabregas and excel at the club - but this dream looks to be quickly diminishing.
Personally, I would be absolutely gutted to see Smith Rowe leave the club, as I am still of the belief that he is a real talent, but we are getting to a point where his departure feels both inevitable and also necessary - both for the club's finances and for his own career, and it would be selfish to deny him of that.