He may not be one of the most high profile youngsters on Arsenal’s books, but Matt Smith has made significant progress this season.
The hard-working midfielder has been with Arsenal since U9 level and is now established as an important player for Kwame Ampadu’s U18 side.
Composed in possession and capable of playing precise through-balls, Smith tends to operate as a deep-lying playmaker and has been one of the most consistent performers in Arsenal’s impressive U18 team this campaign.
The 17-year-old started Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup third round victory against Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month and will hope to be involved in the next round, which sees the young Gunners visit Anfield to take on Liverpool.
If Smith continues to perform consistently then he will surely be able to earn a professional contract in due course, while it is anticipated that he can break into the U23 squad before the conclusion of this campaign.
Smith relishes setting the tempo in midfield and has become increasingly tactically aware this season, while he is also starting to provide something of a goal threat, as evidenced by the fact that he found the net in consecutive games against Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the campaign.
With Arsenal having a host of talented young central midfielders on their books, making the breakthrough in the longterm will certainly be a difficult task for Smith, but the youngster is certainly developing very well and has more than justified the club’s decision to give him a scholarship deal.
Smith is very energetic, much in the mould of Aaron Ramsey, and relishes pushing forwards when the opportunity arises.
The development that he has made so far indicates that Smith has a good chance of at least getting first-team opportunities elsewhere in the future if he doesn’t succeed in doing so at Arsenal, but if he keeps on progressing at his current rate, he may well eventually play himself into contention to represent the Gunners at senior level.