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Emile Smith Rowe has burst onto the scene for Arsenal in recent weeks.
The 20-year-old is set to be offered a new deal by the Gunners after his impressive breakthrough until Mikel Arteta’s first-team.
If anyone knows about bursting into the Arsenal side as a youngster it is Jack Wilshere – and he spotted something special in Smith Rowe straight away.
Back when the Croydon-born playmaker first stepped into training with the first-team aged 17, Wilshere liked what he saw and predicted big things before he had even made his debut.
Just before exiting Arsenal, he singled out Smith Rowe as a player with “something a little bit special”.
Emile Smith Rowe has made his breakthrough into Arsenal's first-team in recent weeks
(Image: 2021 The Arsenal Football Club Plc)
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Emile Smith Rowe anecdote from Championship spell says a lot about Arsenal youngster
And his assessment has been proved right when he has finally got his first-team chance after spells on loan at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town.
"When he has stepped up to play with the first team, he hasn't look out of place," Wilshere told Arsenal Player back in April 2018.
"That's a sign of someone who has a real opportunity of not just making a career, but playing at this club which I know is difficult.
"You can see over the years the good players that haven't quite made it, but he has got something a little bit special, and he has a real chance.”
Smith Rowe is grasping his chance in the Arsenal first-team and proving Jack Wilshere was right
(Image: Getty Images)
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Former Manchester United star Gary Neville has also been impressed with Smith Rowe – and reckons he could have thrived under Arsene Wenger in Arsenal teams of the past.
Neville told Sky Sports: “You watch Emile Smith Rowe play, you watch a lot of young players play, particularly in the front areas, they’re frantic. Their choices are a little bit erratic, they don’t normally get it right.
“He doesn’t run with the ball, he glides with it, travels with it, and he’s always at a point where you feel like he can release it.
“The real best players travel with the ball, but are always in a position where they can release it at the right moment.
“A lot of young players, they run with it, then they have to stop, look up, and the moment’s gone. He’s not, he’s connected, he’s switched on, he’s clever.
“Arsene Wenger had brilliant players who travelled with the ball, like Robert Pires and others who travelled with the ball brilliantly and were so clever. He could have played in those teams.
“He’s only played six games. Six games? It’s unbelievable he looks so experienced, and I don’t know why he looks so experienced.
“Maybe it’s those loan moves, being at Huddersfield, going away from home, taking that chance to learn and build your resilience and development.
“Arsenal fans have got a group of young players they can hang their hat on, and build around.”
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