Rio Ferdinand heaps praise on Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe played a vital role in Arsenal's win over Tottenham last Sunday
Emile Smith Rowe played a vital role in Arsenal’s win over Tottenham last Sunday (Picture: Getty)

Rio Ferdinand admits he feared for Emile Smith Rowe’s Arsenal future following the signing of Martin Odegaard in January, but has been delighted by the England youngster’s progress under Mikel Arteta.

The Hale End academy graduate was forced to bide his time before he was entrusted with a regular first team spot following loan spells at the likes of RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town.

A spate of injuries and a chronic run of form prior to Christmas almost forced Arteta into promoting the 20-year-old and his effect on the team’s performances have been as dramatic as they have been eye-catching.

Smith Rowe has predominantly impressed in the No.10 role vacated by Mesut Ozil, but faced increased competition for a place following the January arrival of Odegaard.

Arteta, however, has managed to find space for both to thrive in his starting XI and the pair were both highly influential during Sunday’s impressive 2-1 north London derby win over Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta sanctioned the loan signing of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid in January
Mikel Arteta sanctioned the loan signing of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid in January (Picture: Getty)

Smith Rowe has subsequently been handed a first England Under-21 international call-up and Ferdinand believes it is just reward for a player who would’ve been capable of thriving at the heart of Wenger’s best footballing sides.

He told his YouTube channel: ‘I love him. I have to say, I love him. I love the way he plays. I was worried actually when Odegaard came in.

‘Would the manager play him in the same team? But he’s come in, and the way he’s played this season, there’s sometimes even that cheekiness about the way he plays.

‘I said this a while ago that he could have played in the era of Wenger, the way he plays football.

‘He’s been a breath of fresh air and a big positive under Arteta. I think [Bukayo] Saka’s obviously been the standout young gun that’s come in, but he’s not far behind. And for the future, I think it’s very, very bright for him.’

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