Unai Emery has instructed Aston Villa to get back in the mix for Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe, according to a report.
Villa were interested in the attacking midfielder last summer and even submitted a £30million bid for him. However, at the time Arsenal viewed Smith Rowe as an important player and pushed back Villa’s proposal as a result.
This decision made sense for Arsenal as Smith Rowe had just enjoyed a great campaign. Last term he managed 11 goals and two assists in 37 appearances, with 10 of those strikes coming in the Premier League.
But the Arsenal academy graduate had to undergo groin surgery in October and this saw him fall down the pecking order. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard excelled while Smith Rowe was recovering.
As such, when he returned to full fitness in January, he struggled to get back into the side.
And this trend has continued. In fact, Smith Rowe has only played in nine of Arsenal’s 31 Premier League games so far this season, and he has not started any of them.
The 22-year-old’s lack of game time has badly affected his form when he does get onto the pitch. He has lost confidence and is suffering a goal drought as he has yet to actually score this term.
It is clear that Smith Rowe could do with leaving the Emirates to become a first-team regular elsewhere. This would be sad for Arsenal fans as they like him a lot, but the playmaker is simply too good to be warming the bench every week.
Aston Villa plot Arsenal raid
This is where Villa come in. According to talkSPORT transfer reporter Alex Crook, Emery has told Villa to begin pursuing Smith Rowe once again.
Emery is aware of the England U21 international’s talent, having been in charge of Arsenal between July 2018 and November 2019. When Smith Rowe signed a new Arsenal contract soon after Emery joined, the Spaniard described him as having ‘lots of potential’.
Emery also gave Smith Rowe his professional debut, which saw the player become the first born in the 2000s to represent Arsenal.
The coach clearly believes Smith Rowe is deserving of more appearances and is therefore hoping to take him to Villa Park. And Emery will be looking to use his existing relationship with the Arsenal hierarchy to help strike a deal.
Smith Rowe could form a devastating attack with the likes of Ollie Watkins, Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey.
The report does not mention how much Villa will have to pay to reach an agreement with Arsenal. Due to Smith Rowe being an Arsenal academy graduate and his contract running until 2026, Villa will probably have to bid more than the £30m they offered in 2022.
Although, the Englishman should not cost an astronomical sum as he has barely been given an opportunity under Mikel Arteta this season.