Arsenal have tied down Emile Smith Rowe to a new long-term contract in a major pre-season boost for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Smith Rowe, who burst on to the first-team scene last season and became one of the top performers for a largely inconsistent side, has also been given the No 10 shirt in a further show of confidence in the 20-year-old attacking midfielder’s ability.
Other clubs had been alerted to Smith Rowe’s potential availability while negotiations with Arsenal continued, and Aston Villa had bids of about £25m and £30m firmly rejected last month. Now they will stand no chance of getting their man and Smith Rowe, an academy product who has been with Arsenal since the age of nine, will be integral to his club’s attempt at a revival in 2021-22.
“As we all saw last season, Emile is an intelligent player with excellent ability,” Arteta said. “His sharpness on the turn and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us. His attitude and willingness to learn have also been very impressive. Huge credit to our team in our academy who have given Emile a great education and have worked superbly to help with his development through the age groups.”
Although Smith Rowe made his first-team debut in September 2018, he was quickly sent on loan to RB Leipzig and Huddersfield. A shoulder injury disrupted him early last season and another loan move was on the cards until Arteta selected him for the Boxing Day match against Chelsea. He did not look back from there and finished the season with 20 top-flight appearances, two goals and a host of dynamic performances.
Smith Rowe also made his England Under-21 debut last season, appearing twice in their Uefa Under-21 Championship campaign. He has been widely tipped to earn senior honours alongside Bukayo Saka, another product of the club’s Hale End youth setup.
After securing Smith Rowe’s future, Arsenal remain active in seeking to supplement their rankss. They have signed the left-back Nuno Tavares from Benfica and the Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga, and are expected to complete the £50m signing of Ben White from Brighton in the near future. They retain a strong interest in the Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and the Guardian understands that, having seen two bids rejected, they will test the Blades’ resolve with a third and likely final offer for the 23-year-old. The asking price is £30m including add-ons.