What does the future hold for Arsenal’s forgotten star boy Emile Smith Rowe?

Time might be up for Emile Smith Rowe at Arsenal /COURTESY PICTURE

FOOTBALL What does the future hold for Arsenal’s forgotten star boy Emile Smith Rowe?

Ndyamuhaki J Emanzi 14:13 - 29.04.2023

The playmaker suffered an injury setback last September and had to undergo surgery to fix a groin issue, but he returned from that lay-off in January.

Emile Smith Rowe. Remember him? You probably do. But you would be forgiven for forgetting about him. He’s barely had a kick in a season Arsenal have been considered title contender.

The Arsenal number 10, considered the next big thing at the Emirates after being promoted into the senior team, has only played 121 minutes for the Gunners since January.

And all these are from cameo appearances, none as a starter, with the season almost coming to an end.

What is for sure right now is that Smith Rowe’s future is more uncertain than ever as summer draws ever closer, and many Arsenal fans would have dismissed that kind of suggestion twelve months ago.

A player who scored 11 goals and was Arsenal’s second top scorer behind Bukayo Saka was revered as a big part of Arsenal’s current and future plans.

But that is far from obvious at the moment, and a move away from the Emirates in search of regular football looks like the most likely outcome of the whole situation.

There are many unanswered questions about Smith Rowe’s future ahead of the summer.

Emile Smith Rowe has struggled to get playing time since returning from injury in January /COURTESY PICTURE

Is he still a key part of Arteta’s plans? Will he get a chance to impress when everyone returns for preseason?

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta recently said: “In football, it’s not about what you’ve done a year or a month ago. It’s about what you do now, what you did yesterday and what you’re going to do tomorrow.

“The player has to have that mindset, and the contribution has to be now to the team to make us better and win games.”

With players like team captain Martin Ødegaard, Fabio Vieira and Leandro Trossard, Arteta seems comfortable minus the services of Smith Rowe.

The playmaker suffered an injury setback last September and had to undergo surgery to fix a groin issue, but he returned from that lay-off in January.

And to have played just 121 minutes might be a clear picture of how much Arteta rates him compared to the players commanding a lot more minutes.

It is always challenging for players to get back to their former best after injuries and surgeries, but they can only do that by playing.

And while Arteta has had opportunities to use Smith Rowe, he has opted not to on several occasions.

Games against Fulham and Leeds presented Arteta with an opportunity to trust Smith Rowe, but the Spaniard, who has been criticized for being predictable with his lineups and set-up, still turned to players like Saka, who could have used some rest.

With five games left on Arsenal’s schedule this season, it looks like Smith Rowe’s chance will only arrive in the preseason.

And with everyone available, the England midfielder can only hope to impress in time for the next season.

But whether Smith Rowe’s preseason will be with his boyhood club or not is far from obvious.

Aston Villa have shown interest, and it might only make sense that Smith Rowe decided to look for playing time away from the Emirates.

For now, Arteta's focus might be on finishing strong in the title race, with Arsenal's lead at the top in danger of being extinguished by on-form Manchester City.