‘Thank you Kev’ – it doesn’t take too much thinking to figure out who Arsenal wonderkid Bukayo Saka is referencing when showing his appreciation for Emile Smith Rowe on Instagram.

The ‘Croydon De Bruyne’ is continuing to impress for the Gunners’ senior side, scoring a crucial goal in their FA Cup victory over Newcastle.

Smith Rowe helped book Arsenal’s place in the FA Cup fourth round

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Smith Rowe helped book Arsenal’s place in the FA Cup fourth round

This kid can play

Getty Images – Getty

This kid can play

This came after he was initially shown a red card for a challenge on Sean Longstaff but VAR came to his rescue and Smith Rowe was only given a yellow.

He’s tallied two assists in recent Premier League matches, one against Chelsea and one against West Brom, which earned the aforementioned praise from his fellow youngster.

In a post-match interview, Saka explained further about the strike Smith Rowe set-up.

“[For my goal] Emile saw me around the corner and played it first time and then I went to [Alexandre] Lacazette and Emile made the third-man run and luckily Emile saw me in the middle of the open goal. It was great goal from all of us, one-touch play and this is the football that we love to play.”

We get the feeling this might be something we see a lot more from Arsenal should manager Mikel Arteta keep faith in 20-year-old Smith Rowe.

And having lacked a creative figure in central areas this season, why wouldn’t you allow the flourishing starlet a chance to build on his success.

We can’t quite lean on statistics to shout about his talents, with only three top-flight games and an FA Cup tie across a hectic schedule. His success will be easier to substantiate in figure form when we’ve seen more of him in the Premier League.

Instead, it’s better to listen to those who watched him coming through the academy and those who are seeing him come to the fore just as the Gunners needed something special to ignite their season.

His talents were highlighted early on his career and as far back as 2018 former teammate Jack Wilshere was complimentary having seen him up close and personal.

He revealed: “When he has stepped up to [train] with the first team, he hasn’t looked out of place and that’s a sign of someone who has a real opportunity of not just making a career, but playing at this club, which I know is difficult.

“You can see over the years the good players that haven’t quite made it, but he has got something a little bit special, and he has a real chance.”

Smith Rowe scoring in the Europa League against Vorskla Poltava back in 2018

Getty – Contributor

Smith Rowe scoring in the Europa League against Vorskla Poltava back in 2018

Loan spells were hoped to give him the platform he needed but a period with RB Leipzig saw him recovering from a groin issue so he only made three appearances.

His time at Huddersfield last season was much more successful though as he made 13 starts in the Championship, grabbing two goals and two assists.

“Emile is a young boy who has the world at his feet,” said Danny Cowley, who managed him at Huddersfield.

“He has that ability to find space. He could find space in a telephone box. He speeds the play up for you and draws and commits. He’s just a really lovely player.”

Meanwhile, when responding to calls from supporters to give him more playing time, he said:  “We have to be very protective of him which none of us like. I actually boo myself when I take him off, because it’s not something I want to do.”

Smith Rowe played in Huddersfield’s relegation fight last season

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Smith Rowe played in Huddersfield’s relegation fight last season

Current boss Arteta has been a big fan prior to this major breakthrough, hailing him ahead of their Europa League clash with Dundalk in early December.

“Emile is a player with an incredible talent,” said the Gunners boss. “He’s a player with very specific qualities to play in those pockets in that position as an attacking midfielder.

“Mentally, it is always a challenge because the demands are so high and you need to hit those high levels to become an Arsenal player. So, it’s down to him as well.

“But I really like him and he’s a player that if we are a little bit patient [with], we have a great player there.”

Emile Smith Rowe in action against Chelsea

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Smith Rowe was always highly-rated at Arsenal

Smith Rowe himself though, who was courted by Tottenham, Chelsea and Barcelona in his academy days, has no problems with comparisons to great players and relishes learning from the very best in the game.

“I enjoy playing at No.10 the most,” he said. “I love driving towards goal with the ball.

“Some people have compared my playing style to Kevin De Bruyne’s and that’s a very nice compliment because he’s a great player and someone I really look up to.

“I’m trying to learn as much as I can from watching De Bruyne and working hard in training with all of the world-class players around me.”

De Bruyne is known for his assists, driving runs, and creative play


De Bruyne is known for his assists, driving runs, and creative play

And on that interest from Barcelona? Well, Smith Rowe didn’t have his head turned at all.

“Arsenal is the right club for me”, he said.

“I used to watch that Barcelona team, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, when they were in their prime.

“So when I found out that they were interested of course I was very happy, but I can’t explain to you how much I feel that Arsenal is the right club for me.”


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