Emile Smith Rowe most at risk if Mikel Arteta completes two Arsenal transfer wishes
Arsenal's Premier League Fixtures 2022/23
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Emile Smith Rowe’s spot in the Arsenal side will be most at risk if Mikel Arteta is granted his transfer wishes this summer. The impending arrival of Fabio Vieira and interest in Leeds winger Raphinha could have a major impact on Smith Rowe in particular.
Arsenal are set to confirm the signing of Vieira in the coming days. The 22-year-old is a versatile player, with the ability to play as a No 10, out wide, in central midfield or even as a false nine.
Smith Rowe’s preferred position last season was on the left of an attacking three, with Martin Odegaard often the first option for Arteta in the more advanced midfield role. Arsenal need to add depth to their squad with the addition of European football next season but they could be more than well stocked in creative areas in particular.
Add Raphinha into the mix and life would become even more difficult for Smith Rowe. The Brazilian has spent the majority of his two seasons at Leeds on the right of attack, cutting inside onto his lethal left foot.
Bukayo Saka has made that position his own at the Emirates but easily could switch to the left to accommodate Raphinha. So where does that leave Smith Rowe?
The England international fell behind Gabriel Martinelli as Arteta’s preferred option on the left-hand side in the second half of last season. Smith Rowe started the campaign on fire but only two of his 11 goals came in 2022.
Martinelli didn’t exactly grab his opportunity with both hands, also scoring just twice this calendar year. But Smith Rowe could quite easily find himself as the third-choice both on the left and as a No 10.
Odegaard featured in all 36 matches he was available for last season following his permanent arrival from Real Madrid. Vieira will likely start as a back-up to the Norwegian, unless Arteta fancies going extra attacking for certain matches.
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Arsenal wouldn’t sign Raphinha without the intention of using him as a mainstay in their team. So finding a spot for Smith Rowe could prove to be a tough task.
Arsenal rebuffed an offer from Aston Villa last summer for the 21-year-old. He was handed a new five-year contract to keep him in north London until 2026.
That was in no way a mistake. Arsenal supporters on the whole would have been fuming to see one of their own with such promise leave the club.
But Smith Rowe will be keeping an eye on the business Arsenal do complete this summer. He knows his task may be even tougher next season.
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