James Maddison: Facts and stats of Arsenal-linked midfielder
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Arsenal are confident that Emile Smith Rowe will commit his long-term future to the club by signing a new contract, according to reports. Smith Rowe has been the subject of serious interest from Aston Villa in recent weeks, but Arsenal have rebuffed those approaches and will now push to tie the youngster down to a new deal.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2020/21, recording four goals and seven assists in 32 appearances across all competitions.
His importance goes beyond statistics, though, with Smith Rowe becoming an instant fan-favourite due to his attacking capabilities and progression from the club’s academy.
That is one of the reasons why Arsenal have been so steadfast in their refusal to engage in negotiations with Aston Villa.
Villa have had two approaches rejected by the Gunners – one for £25million and one closer to £30m – and Arsenal are now moving to make sure Smith Rowe does not have his head turned.
Arsenal opened talks with his representatives in April after sorting out contracts for two other young stars, Bukayo Saka and Folarin Balogun, and have stepped up that process recently.
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According to The Athletic, those talks are progressing nicely and ‘all the signs point to Emile Smith Rowe staying’.
Smith Rowe has previously spent time on loan with Huddersfield and RB Leipzig but now ‘needs to be well paid and made to feel important’ by Mikel Arteta and his staff.
Arsenal ‘know that and will act accordingly’ in the coming weeks as they gear up for the 2021/22 season.
One of the key parts to convincing Smith Rowe to stay is the club’s work in the transfer window.
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There is an acceptance that another creative midfielder is needed to play alongside or instead of the academy graduate, with no replacement found for Mesut Ozil, who joined Fenerbahce in January.
Arsenal wanted to sign Martin Odegaard following his loan spell last season but Real Madrid are reportedly keen to keep hold of him.
That means Arsenal have had to identify other targets. One of those is Lyon’s Houssem Aouar, who has been on the club’s radar for some time.
According to ESPN, Arsenal are in ‘pole position’ for his signature but they face competition from Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Aouar is under contract with Lyon for another two years but the French side are keen to sell this summer in order to maximise the transfer fee.
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