Arsenal: Aubameyang, Elneny get in shape ahead of pre-season
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has claimed that Emile Smith-Rowe is set to stay at the club, despite a series of bids from Aston Villa. The news will come as a blow to the Midlands side who continue to face uncertainty surrounding the future of their talisman Jack Grealish.
The Gunners made a terrible start to their pre-season campaign on Tuesday, losing 2-1 to Hibernian at Easter Road.
Arteta will have to turn the team’s fortunes around swiftly if he is to build momentum ahead of a season where he will need to show drastic improvement from last term’s eighth-place finish.
Smith-Rowe was the only Arsenal player to get himself on the score-sheet, bagging what turned out to be a consolation goal in the second-half.
After the game, Arteta was quizzed on his future, saying: “He will stay here, 100 per cent.”
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Villa had two bids for Smith-Rowe rejected, totalling £25million and £30m respectively, earlier in the transfer window.
They have also added Emiliano Buendia to their creative ranks, sparking rumours that they were looking to replace Jack Grealish who has been linked with a move away.
But Smith-Rowe, the promising 20-year-old affectionately known as ‘the Croydon De Bruyne’, now looks to be off the cards for Dean Smith.
The decision for Arsenal to hold onto their talented playmaker seems a logical one, with a hoard of midfielders leaving the club in recent weeks.
Matteo Guendouzi and on-loan duo Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos have all gone so far, with the likes of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira set to follow.
Smith-Rowe was given more game time than ever before last season, clocking up over 30 appearances and looking lively on his way to bagging four goals.
If the Englishman continues to develop as he has been, he could be in line for a crucial role in Arsenal’s upcoming campaign.
Despite his goal against Hibs, Arteta remained in manager mode as he pinpointed where the youngster still has room for improvement.
When asked about his goal, the Spaniard said: “He knows that it is a part of the game he needs to get better at.
“We are working on it a lot and you could see the positions that he took today. He created two or three big chances.”
Villa were certainly hoping that the player would continue to develop that side of his game under the tutelage of their head coach Smith, although the latest development suggests that the player’s future lies at the Emirates for the time being.
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