Rivals eye transfer for Aston Villa target who 'knows how Unai Emery plays'

Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Emile Smith Rowe is set to be a man in demand this summer, with Arsenal said to be ready to listen to offers for the playmaker a number of transfer windows after Aston Villa were thwarted in their efforts to lure him to Villa Park. During the tenure of Dean Smith, Villa explored the possibility of striking a deal with the Gunners for their academy product, but those advances were rejected and indeed Smith Rowe signed a new deal at the Emirates Stadium.

Smith Rowe, who turns 24 this year, was handed the number ten shirt upon signing that deal to fend of Villa - a deal which runs for another two years - but he made just 13 Premier League appearances last season and started only three of them. Behind the likes of fellow academy product Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli, Smith Rowe has found regular minutes hard to come by under Mikel Arteta.

Regular football, then, could lie away from North London, especially with the Gunners likely to attempt to strengthen again this summer in an attempt to overhaul Manchester City to claim the title next season. Smith Rowe has attracted interest from Napoli in Serie A but it is Fulham, according to the Telegraph, who are especially eager to offer him the chance to remain in the Premier League and in the capital.

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Villa, these days, can offer opportunities to players that sides like Fulham simply can't; if they so wished to reignite their interest in Smith Rowe, the allure of playing regularly but remaining in the Champions League would be enough of an attraction, but Smith Rowe would also reunite with Unai Emery in the scenario where he pitched up at Bodymoor Heath this summer.

The Spaniard, who was appointed as Arsene Wenger's successor in the summer of 2018, handed Smith Rowe his breakthrough in first-team football. It was an opportunity to showcase his talent that the player was highly appreciative of.

"To get the chances that the manager has given me has just been great," he said in December 2018. "It's a bit surreal to think about the players he has worked with. Now he's there giving me advice. I'm grateful for what he has done for me. All I can do is just play really well for him and show him how good I am.

"We had conversations at the beginning about what positions I like to play and what my attributes are. He has been giving me a lot of help and advice. He's very passionate and very detailed as well. He wants it how he wants it. He's not going to pull back, he's just going to keep trying and keep getting what he wants. He does speak a lot in Spanish when he gets a bit angry, but it's good that he's so passionate. He wants to win and he wants to improve."

Equally, Emery was impressed with Smith Rowe during their time working together: "Smith Rowe worked well with us in pre-season and knows how we play. He is very humble and wants to continue improving with us. The quality he has physically and mentally. He also has quality in his right foot, with working in attacking moments with any player.

"If I say one condition, I say his mentality. He is humble, he listens every day in training, in video analysis and before every match, but I prefer to not speak a lot about him, I want him to stay humble and keep his feet on the ground."

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