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Arsenal 'schedule talks with 23-year-old home-grown talent'

Arsenal 'schedule talks with 23-year-old home-grown talent'
© Reuters
Arsenal reportedly schedule talks with out-of-favour midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, who is being tipped to leave the club in search of regular football.

Arsenal have pencilled in summer talks with one of their home-grown talents amid speculation that he could leave the club, according to a report.

The 2021-22 season was a breakthrough one for Hale End product Emile Smith Rowe, who was handed a new contract before the season began and struck 10 Premier League goals across the campaign.

Smith Rowe's introduction into the team also helped to revive their faltering 2020-21 campaign in the second half of the term, but injuries have significantly hampered his development for a couple of years now.

The England international picked up a groin injury early in the 2022-23 season, which required surgical attention, and he has also been plagued by knee and ankle problems in recent months.

Smith Rowe was restricted to a mere 19 appearances in the 2023-24 campaign, setting up two goals and making the starting lineup on just three occasions in the Premier League.

Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe pictured on September 27, 2023© Reuters

Arsenal 'to speak with Smith Rowe in next couple of weeks'

Owing to his injury problems and lack of starts, Smith Rowe quickly lost his place in the England setup and was unsurprisingly not selected for Gareth Southgate's provisional Euro 2024 squad.

The 23-year-old is still under contract in North London for another two years, but in spite of his long-running association with Arsenal, an exit has inevitably been mooted amid his playing struggles.

According to Charles Watts - via Fabrizio Romano's Daily Briefing - the Gunners plan to sit down with the 23-year-old to discuss his future, and talks should take place in the next couple of weeks before the transfer window reopens.

Watts adds that Smith Rowe retains a burning affection for Arsenal, whom he boasts 18 goals and 13 assists in 115 appearances for, but the playmaker is now searching for regular game time at this point in his career.

Fellow Englishmen Aaron Ramsdale, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson are all in the same boat, and the other two leaving the club would also go down as pure profit on Arsenal's financial records due to their academy status.

What has gone wrong for Smith Rowe at Arsenal?

Emile Smith Rowe in action for England Under-21s on March 28, 2023© Reuters

Aside from the obvious fitness problems, it can be argued that Smith Rowe's downfall also had something to do with Mikel Arteta's yearning for an inverted left-back, which he got with the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko.

During Smith Rowe's standout 2021-22 season, Kieran Tierney or Nuno Tavares would bomb down the left for Arsenal, two players whose strengths undeniably lie in the wide areas right on the touchline.

Such characteristics benefitted Smith Rowe, who excelled in the half-spaces, but Arteta moved away from the overlapping Tierney in favour of the inverting Zinchenko for the 2022-23 season and beyond.

As a result, Arteta may have felt that using both Smith Rowe and Zinchenko in the same XI would have been counter-productive and limited Arsenal's wide threat, which Gabriel Martinelli provided last season after his own injury problems.

The Brazilian failed to make as strong an impact in 2023-24, but Leandro Trossard picked up the slack, and with Declan Rice now nailing down the left eight position in midfield, Smith Rowe is simply surplus to requirements at Arsenal.

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