Aston Villa eye shock move for Arsenal wonderkid Emile Smith Rowe

Arsenal FC v SL Benfica - UEFA Europa League Round Of 32 Leg Two
Aston Villa have emerged as shock contenders for Smith Rowe’s signature (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Aston Villa have emerged as shock contenders for Emile Smith Rowe’s signature this summer as Dean Smith’s side look to capitalise on the playmaker’s prolonged contract negotiations with Arsenal.

Smith Rowe, 20, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at the Emirates last term and was one of the few highlights of an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Gunners.

Mikel Arteta was happy to discard of Mesut Ozil because of Smith Rowe’s emergence and the England U21 international impressed as he was given a more significant role after the German’s departure.

Smith Rowe came through Arsenal’s academy and the Gunners are keen to protect their investment in the playmaker by offering him a new long-term deal to his current contract, which expires in 2023.

Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Smith Rowe has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at Arsenal (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

However, Smith Rowe’s playing time was compromised after Martin Odegaard’s arrival in January and Arsenal are keen on signing the Norwegian on a permanent basis.

While Smith Rowe’s preference remains to stay at the club, he knows he needs first team football at this stage of his career.

Villa are unsure whether to sign Ross Barkley on a permanent basis and the Telegraph report that they’ve shortlisted Smith Rowe as a viable option.

Jack Grealish looks set to leave the club this summer once the European Championships finish, with Manchester City likely to sign the England international.

Smith Rowe could therefore be given a prominent role at Villa Park but Arsenal would likely demand at least £30m for the playmaker.

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