James Maddison: Facts and stats of Arsenal-linked midfielder
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Arsenal have dropped a major hint about Emile Smith Rowe’s Gunners future after the exciting midfielder was included in the promotion of their new home kit.
Smith Rowe has been linked with a move away this summer and has been the subject of reported bids by Aston Villa, but appears likely to sign a new contract at the Emirates Stadium.
Villa are believed to have offered around £25million for the Croydon-born sensation but their approaches have been knocked back by the Gunners.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is in the middle of a big summer revamp, with several senior stars set to be replaced by fresh faces.
However, Smith Rowe is a key part of the Spaniard’s plans and will not be one of the individuals heading for the exit.
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He is instead believed to be close to agreeing to extend his contract beyond the two years that his current deal has left to run.
That has been reinforced by the 20-year-old’s inclusion in promotional material advertising Arsenal’s new home kit.
The fresh matchwear dropped on Friday morning and supporters have been gushing about the design.
Arsenal will wear the red shirt with white sleeves and sides for the first time in their friendly versus Rangers on Saturday.
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Arteta is expecting a busy summer but suffered a fresh blow on Tuesday when Arsenal were beaten by Hibernian in their first pre-season fixture.
The dismal performance by a strong Arsenal side in the 2-1 reverse proves that the Arteta and sporting director Edu still have plenty of work to do before their season begins with a trip to Brentford on August 13.
Smith Rowe was a half-time substitute and scored a consolatory goal for the North Londoners, who had fallen 2-0 behind.
He controlled a volley high into the net after fellow substitute Hector Bellerin had stormed down the right wing and delivered a cross to the back post.
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Arteta responded “no comment” when asked about bids from Villa for Smith Rowe but confirmed that the starlet is part of his plans.
The 39-year-old also hopes to keep fellow midfielder Joe Willock, even though the Newcastle-linked star was not included in the squad to face the Scottish Premiership side.
Smith Rowe scored four times in all competitions last season and struck his maiden Premier League strikes in successive May victories over West Brom and Chelsea.
He was often used in a three-pronged attacking midfield behind striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and formed a potent partnership with Martin Odegaard.
However, Arteta has demanded that Smith Rowe improves his goals and assists tallies.
The England U21 man has scored seven times and has set up a further seven goals in his 45 appearances for Arsenal’s senior side.
“He’s having an incredible season ever since he started to play in December,” Arteta said after Smith Rowe scored against West Brom on May 9.
“But he’s scoring his first Premier League goal. An incredible season for a No 10 of Arsenal means he needs to score 15 goals and give 10 assists.
“Then you are right up there with the top guys in Europe and in the league. He’s got the ability to do it but he hasn’t done it.
“We need to stay calm with him, give him the right support and step by step, I think he will be getting there.”
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