Emile Smith Rowe will wear Arsenal’s number 10 jersey in 2021-22, with the midfielder also signing a new contract.
Smith Rowe enjoyed a groundbreaking season in 2020-21, with the 20-year-old making 33 appearances in all competitions.
In total, Smith Rowe scored four goals and contributed seven assists, the latter being a record for Arsenal alongside Willian and fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka.
Smith Rowe’s big odds conversion rate of 60 percent (3/5) also ranked him atop the Arsenal squad last term (minimum of two big chances).
Although it was his creativity that made Smith Rowe so effective. His 37 key passes from open play were only improved by Kieran Tierney (41) and Saka (39) on the Gunners squad, although both played at least 700 minutes longer than him. The 1.5 chances created by the midfielder per game were second only to Martin Odegaard (2.2 – minimum 100 minutes played).
However, his future was not certain. With Arsenal reportedly looking to make Odegaard’s transfer from Real Madrid permanent, Aston Villa had seen a string of rejected offers for Smith Rowe earlier in the transfer window.
But with Odegaard seemingly unattainable, Arsenal have now tied Smith Rowe to a new deal, even though the Gunners have not specified the length of the contract.
Smith Rowe was also awarded the number 10 jersey, which was last occupied by Mesut Ozil – the number is perhaps best associated in recent memory with Dennis Bergkamp, who was integral to Arsene Wenger’s first success. in north London.
“Everyone knows that the number 10 is an important jersey and it is certainly an important position as well,” Smith Rowe, who previously wore the number 35, told Arsenal’s official website.
“So I’m in turmoil to tell the truth, I can’t wait to take the field. It’s really special – I can’t explain the feeling when I found out. I really don’t have the words to explain it right now!
– Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 22, 2021
“The legends who played here and wore the jersey… it’s a little too much right now but I’m sure I’ll calm down after a while. When I was younger I was watching Dennis Bergkamp, and when I was attending the academy there was also Mesut Ozil and having the opportunity to train with him and play with him was incredible.
“I just want to keep working hard and I hope I can play like them and replicate what they did.”
Mikel Arteta added: “As we all saw last season, Emile is a smart player with excellent skills. His sharp cornering and outstanding vision have already made him a key player for us.
“His attitude and willingness to learn was also very impressive. Huge credit to our team at our academy who gave Emile a great education and worked superbly to help his development across the age groups.
The signing of Smith Rowe follows the arrival of Arsenal who have already made two additions this month, with Nuno Tavares arriving from Benfica and Albert Sambi Lokonga arriving from Anderlecht.
Arsenal were expected to participate in the Florida Cup, a pre-season tournament in Orlando, next week, but have withdrawn due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their court.