Unai Emery’s arrival at Arsenal has brought with it a flurry of changes. Given that Arsene Wenger’s reign lasted for over two decades, the club had effectively grown under the tutelage of the veteran Frenchman, and it had grown under his instruction and by his methods.
Bringing in someone new, then, was always going to generate changes. The main example of those have come on the field with regards to personnel. Emery has signed a number of top players like Bernd Leno and Lucas Torreira, and over time he will likely look to phase out the bulk of Wenger’s captures.
However, one thing that seemingly isn’t going to change is Arsenal’s approach to youth talent. Arsene Wenger was always keen to give young players a chance where appropriate, and it appears as though Unai Emery is going to echo that sentiment.
According to the Daily Mail, he’s ready to introduce young Emile Smith-Rowe into the first team this season, with the manager apparently passing on the prospect of a loan for the youngster.
On the surface, this seems like a good idea. he’s a talented player and first team action is always good, and we pleaded that case in a previous article on the topic.
However, there’s a flip side to that argument, and there is definitely a case to be made for this being a bad decision from Emery.
It’s tough to see this deal as any more than a blind show of faith.
After all, playing games is great; but consistency is what is needed. Having 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there simply isn’t going to cut it with regards to personal development, and the reality is that that’s all Smith-Rowe would be getting at Arsenal. He’s rarely, if ever, going to start games, and even if he did, they would only come once or maybe twice a month at most.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a good example to consider here. He’s been Chelsea’s golden boy for years, and he looked ready for a first team role as a teenager. However, he stayed at Chelsea on the premise of occasional minutes and his development stalled as a result. Indeed, he developed more during one season at Crystal Palace that he did in the preceding 2 or 3 years in the Chelsea first team. It would be a shame for Smith-Rowe to take a similar path.
You also have to consider what is already at Arsenal. There is bags of talent in the Arsenal attack that would likely serve to compete with Smith-Rowe, like Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubaemyang, Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. So, it’s tough to see him getting ahead of any of those players, and without even a distant hope of breaking through – is there much point?
Perhaps it makes sense for Emery to give him until January to see how he adjusts – he is young enough after all – but it’s tough to see this deal as any more than a blind show of faith.
Arsenal fans – thoughts?
Let us know below!