Exclusive: “He has the talent to develop into a real top class player.” Former Huddersfield Head of Football Operations heaps praise on Arsenal’s Smith-Rowe

Emile Smith-Rowe

Gunning for it

Emile Smith-Rowe has gone under the radar at Arsenal. An injury to his right shoulder ahead of the new Premier League season meant the opportunity to get early minutes was stolen away.

However, Smith-Rowe has gradually integrated himself back into full training. With Europa League fixtures on the horizon, the opportunity for the 20-year-old to jumpstart his Gunners career could be approaching.

Spending time with Huddersfield Town on loan last season revealed that Smith-Rowe was making significant progress in his senior game. Helping the Terriers survive relegation with some commanding displays.

101 spoke to former Huddersfield Town Head of Football Operation David Webb. Webb was integral in signing Smith-Rowe from Arsenal in January. He spoke of how he followed the young Englishman’s career from an early age.

“What alerted me to Smith-Rowe was his ability on the ball. I knew him previously when I was Tottenham, seeing him play when he was 16-years-old. He was a fantastic talent.”

“At Tottenham, we couldn’t sign him at the time, so we followed his progress.”

Webb became Head of Football Operations at Huddersfield Town in 2019. Speaking regarding the reasons as to why they decided to sign Smith-Rowe he said, “We needed a player of his creativity, his talent and his work ethic to help us. We were in a situation where we needed an additional supply line for our goal scorers.”

Where does he fit?

Asking Webb about how Smith-Rowe could fit into Arteta’s set up, based upon his time with the Championship club, he was very complimentary.

“I think he would suit Arsenal’s system. With the formation they are moving to, he would suit playing in the role of one of the attacking midfielders.”

Mikel Arteta has typically used a 3-4-3 formation but against Sheffield United switched to a back four with three midfielders. One of these midfield options would play a more creative role behind the attacking front three.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 04: Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal with teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium on October 04, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images)

“He probably will not get 30-40 games this season. But with the talent he has got and the experience from Huddersfield, I think he got a chance to play 10-15 matches.”

The Europa League would certainly provide the initial bulk of these. However, opportunities from the bench could also be within the realms of possibility.

The future

In regards to where Webb believes Smith-Rowe’s future lies, the signs have been strong so far.

“We noticed not only was his footballing ability good, but also his character. He was in a relegation fight and he showed a battling trait when needed.”

“Showing his character and work ethic. He displayed that he could deal with the physical and mental challenge. Showing he could still display his footballing qualities despite being in games where it was not suited to his talents.”

Emile Smith Rowe Arsenal

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – OCTOBER 04: Emile Smith-Rowe of Arsenal scores his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Qarabag FK and Arsenal at on October 4, 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

“I think for Emile he has the chance within the next 2 years to really establish himself as a Premier League player. I think he initially now needs some game time to make that next progression. this could be with Arsenal or a loan move.”

“From there, he has the talent to develop into a real top-class player.”

It will be intriguing to witness the development of the 20-year-old and considering loan interest was reportedly ‘batted away’ this window, he has the faith of the coach.

See also: Jérémie Aliadière exclusive: Invincible with Arsenal, down with Middlesbrough and rejuvenated in France

Exclusive: “He is a huge player” – Arsenal signing Nikolaj Moller’s former coach gives 101 the lowdown on striker


This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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