Emile Smith Rowe ‘well in front of’ Arsenal loan signing Martin Odegaard, says Ray Parlour

Martin Odegaard looks on in Arsenal training
Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard will be with Arsenal until the end of the season (Picture: Getty)

Ray Parlour has backed Martin Odegaard to impress on loan at Arsenal but believes Emile Smith Rowe is currently ‘well in front of’ the midfielder in the pecking order with the way he’s been playing in recent weeks.

Odegaard was keen to secure a temporary move away from Real Madrid this January in order to secure regular playing time and Arsenal seemed the perfect fit, given Mikel Arteta has been keen to add a No.10 to his squad to fill the void left by Mesut Ozil.

Arteta has already discussed the possibility of making Odegaard’s deal permanent if he succeeds in the second half of the season and the 22-year-old could make his debut at home to Manchester United this weekend.

Emile Smith Rowe runs with the ball during Arsenal's Premier League clash with Newcastle
Odegaard could be battling it out with Smith Rowe for a spot in Arteta’s XI (Picture: Getty)

But Odegaard could face a serious fight for selection, with academy product Smith Rowe key to Arsenal’s mini resurgence over the winter period, and Parlour doubts the Norwegian will be guaranteed a starting spot.

‘I imagine he’s looking at him as a No.10,’ former Arsenal midfielder Parlour told talkSPORT. 

‘Smith Rowe is well in front of him at the moment because he is playing so well, but it’s another option from the bench.

‘Sixteen years old, signing for Real Madrid, the next [Lionel] Messi, there has been a lot of pressure on the young man.

‘He’s gone out last year on loan and played really well. I think Mikel Arteta has looked at that and thought we can nurture him a little bit more, improve him a bit more.

Ray Parlour talks during Arsenal's pre-season tour of the United States
Parlour believes Smith Rowe is ‘well in front of’ loan signing Odegaard as it stands (Picture: Getty)

‘They have got some good youngsters, Arsenal. You look at [Bukayo] Saka, Smith Rowe, [Gabriel] Martinelli – that is the future for Arsenal.

‘If he does well when he gets his opportunity then I’m sure at the end of the season they are trying to get a deal done with Real Madrid to sign him.

‘He could be another good youngster going forward.’

Martin Odegaard poses in Arsenal's colours
The Norwegian shone on loan at Real Sociedad last term (Picture: Getty)

Parlour is confident Odegaard can handle the pressure and expectation that comes with representing a club of Arsenal’s stature, especially with no supporters inside stadiums this season.

‘I’m sure he’s settled in okay,’ he added.

‘It’s a good environment to be around, you are looked after. Everything is there for the players on a daily basis to improve.

‘He will enjoy it. There is not as much pressure on you because there is no crowd.

‘But he has been at Real Madrid so he is used to pressure and playing in big games. I’m sure he can handle that situation.

‘I’m really looking forward to seeing, if he does play, what he can bring to the team.’

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