Arsenal announced on Thursday afternoon that starlet Emile Smith Rowe has signed a new long-term contract with the club.
The playmaker was wanted by Aston Villa but he opted to stay with the side that he has been with for the last 11 years, penning a deal that will keep him at the Emirates Stadium for the foreseeable future.
However, the contract news may have an impact on the north Londoners‘ pursuit of another club’s no. 10, in the form of Leicester City’s James Maddison.
Maddison enjoys several similar qualities that Smith Rowe possesses, offering intricate passing between the lines, elite pressing from the front and also an ability to glide with the ball at his feet.
Therefore, the fact that the 20-year-old will be staying at the Emirates may mean that a move for Maddison becomes unlikely, especially considering Leicester are holding out for more than £50million for their star midfielder, according to the Daily Mail.
The report claims that the Gunners may attempt to include one of their fringe players in any potential deal for the former Norwich City playmaker, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson both mooted as potential makeweights.
Despite some similarities, Smith Rowe and Maddison are most definitely different players, with the former typically used in an advanced role while the latter has admitted he prefers to be deployed slightly deeper.
“Number eight definitely,” Maddison said when asked for his preferred position last summer. “I played as a number 10 at the start of last season, and then when the gaffer [Brendan Rodgers] came in, I transitioned into a number eight, and sometimes I play off the left.
“I don’t want to be labelled as a number 10. I’m not a number 10. I can’t remember a game where I’ve played as a number 10 this season, maybe West Ham at home. Being a number eight has made me add that defensive side to my game. I’m never going to be a big tackler, I’m never going to go around smashing people.
“It’s that awareness and that responsibility of getting little toes in, little interceptions, because as a number eight you find yourself deeper a lot, so I’ve had to add that.”
Given the 24-year-old admitted he prefers to be utilised eight as a box-to-box midfielder or from the left flank, a potential transfer to Arsenal certainly cannot be ruled out.
He enjoyed a stellar 2020/21 campaign, bagging 21 goals and assists across all competitions for the Foxes.
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