Arsenal have been told they must ensure the growth of one star in particular is not stunted by the arrival of Real Madrid star Martin Odegaard.
The Gunners are reported to have agreed a deal for Norway playmaker Odegaard. The Real Madrid star has seemingly spurned late rival interest to hook up with the Gunners for the rest of the season.
After joining the club as a 16-year-old six years ago, Odegaard has struggled to break into the first team. He was showing promise on loan at Real Sociedad last season, but then Madrid called him back.
This season hasn’t gone to plan though and a move to Arsenal should go through in the coming days.
Odegaard’s arrival should give Arsenal some much-needed creativity in the centre of the park. That said, youngster Emile Smith Rowe has shown great promise there since being afforded a first-team run by Mikel Arteta.
The 20-year-old midfielder has been keen to Arsenal’s resurgence. His five starts in the last Premier League have coincided with an upturn in fortune for Mikel Arteta’s men.
Smith Rowe was thrown into the line-up against Chelsea on Boxing Day and has since started every game as Arsenal have won four and drawn one of those five games.
Smith Rowe has been Arsenal’s chief attacking threat from midfield and he has chipped in with three assists, as well as a goal in the FA Cup win over Newcastle.
His form is likely to be rewarded with a new deal, which would be well deserved.
However, Ferdinand is concerned that the signing of Odegaard could see Smith Rowe’s progress halted.
While he welcomes the signing of the Norwegian, he’s warned Arsenal to ensure their own player’s development continues.
“I’ve heard about this kid [Odegaard] for a long time now,” Ferdinand told Five. “He had a good loan spell in Spain at Sociedad and did really well.
“He’s got potential, 100%. It’s about Mikel Arteta unlocking that.
“I think this kid is a talent, there’s no doubting that. But he’s got to find a home now. Hopefully at Arsenal.
“I want him to do well. Arteta had a reputation when he was at City and now here at Arsenal for getting the best out of young players. Hopefully that follows true with this player.”
Smith Rowe concerns
And like the player in question, Smith Rowe has also come in and lifted Arsenal to new levels.
“That’s the only thing that worries me. If he comes in and takes someone like Emile Smith Rowe’s position, I’ll be devastated,” Ferdinand added.
“He’s come in and done unreal things. The way he’s played, he’s been a breath of fresh air at Arsenal. I’m sure the fans if they were there would be going crazy about him.
“He brings assists, he brings a calmness to the way Arsenal play. He’s the type of player who could have played over a number of generations at Arsenal in the way he plays football.
“So I hope he doesn’t come in and kind of stunt his growth in the team because he’s been really good the last few weeks.”