Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe has signed a new long-term contract with the club. The 18-year-old made an impression on the Gunners’ pre-season trip to Singapore, scoring a fine goal in the International Champions Cup clash with Atletico Madrid. The midfielder, who has been with the club since the age of 10, has now been tied down to a new deal.
An England youth international who was part of the team that won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup last year, Smith Rowe made his first appearance for Arsenal’s senior side in the friendly fixture with Boreham Wood on July 14. He followed his goal against Atletico with an assist for Alexandre Lacazette in a 5-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 31, 2018
For Smith Rowe, it has been a whirlwind week. Just his second and third appearances for the Arsenal first team, his first goal for said first team, and also his 18th birthday, all coming in the far reaches of Southeast Asia is certainly a coming of age for arguably the most talented academy graduate since Jack Wilshere almost a decade ago.
Smith Rowe certainly is a special player. The intelligence, awareness and quality on the ball that he displayed in both appearances, but especially the latter, in which he was introduced with game splintering at the seems and he simply slotted himself between the cracks of a creaking PSG to prise them open further and pour salt into them, are rare attributes that few players at his age possess. And to produce on such a stage.Admittedly, PSG’s team was predominantly teenagers with Thomas Tuchel missing a large contingent of his squad due to extended post-World Cup breaks afforded to many of his more established players. But there was the still the baying crowds, the shining lights, the audience at home, and the unique chance to impress a new manager all providing plenty of reason for Smith Rowe to melt in the sweltering heat.
But two promising displays in two preseason friendlies means very little in the quickly evolving, rarely considerate modern world of football. Smith Rowe has by no means ‘made it’. He still has a lot of work to do, to prove that he can support the first team, to forge a role for himself in Emery’s plans, and to eventually establish himself as a regular starting player. That is a three or four-year process.
Patience, then, is a necessity. His development will quicken and slow, his qualities will expand and depreciate, his hopes will rise and his hopes will be dashed. But in it all, his talent will remain. Emery, Arsenal, Smith Rowe, his coaches, agent, family, friends and fans must all be patient, therefore, as they wait for his time in the limelight. With the right work ethic and a little luck, it will come. But let’s not champion him as the future of Arsenal football club just yet. There is still a long way to go.