Mikel Arteta says Emile Smith Rowe can cope with the pressure of wearing Arsenal’s number 10 shirt despite having just half a season of regular first team football under his belt.
It was confirmed yesterday that the England under-21 international will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Robin van Persie and Dennis Bergkamp from next season after committing his long-term future to the club.
Smith Rowe has already spoken of his excitement of penning a new deal and the manager has now backed him to take his game to another level as one of the Gunners’ key players.
“I think he totally deserves that new contract,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“He has earned every right to be in the position where the club had to think about rewarding what he has done and he has shown his commitment to the football club.
“So when that relationship builds in the way that it is getting, that is a really strong and powerful message for everybody. We want and I want hungry, talented [players] who play with huge desire and Emile fits all of that.
“If that is the case and you are on board and you show that commitment, desire, quality and talent every single day, you are at the right club at the right moment, and I think Emile feels the same way.”
“He asked for [the No 10 shirt], so that shows you the ambition and desire. I prefer players who ask for more than maybe they can take but if they believe they can do it, don’t put a limit on it. When he asked me and asked the club that he would like to get that [number], okay, let’s go.
“We talked a little bit, we discussed it and he knows the consequences of that, but he feels prepared to do it and if he is prepared to do it, then I am going to be right behind him to try to make him as comfortable and as happy as possible to do what he wants to do.”
Smith Rowe’s deal comes quick off the heels of June’s contract extension for Kieran Tierney. The Scot was rewarded with a pay rise for his good form since joining from Celtic and is another figure who, in the eye’s of Arteta, is central to the club’s future.
“Absolutely there is another character in this dressing room that transmits every value that I would like to transmit to the club and our fans [and it is Kieran],” Arteta said.
“Again, it is young, hungry, talented, and people with huge desire and again he has all four ingredients – and he didn’t want to talk about anything other than staying here.
“He had a really, really good season after a really difficult start at the club and I really value people that when things aren’t going for them, they don’t give up. Kieran didn’t give up, he needed support and I think the club gave him a lot of support, but he was really willing to turn that situation around and prove people wrong if people were doubting him.
“That character, I think it shows on the pitch – when anything happens that is not going for us, you don’t give up, you just raise your level, try to be better and transmit that to the rest of the team so they all believe.
“Kieran has this capacity, and Emile as well, to lift the crowd with an action, Gabi Martinelli has this capacity – and this is something you either have or you don’t have.”