Emile Smith Rowe would consider leaving Arsenal if he is not more involved in the first-team setup by the time the January transfer window opens, sources have confirmed to 90min.
The England international made his first start for the Gunners in 499 days in their 1-0 win at Brentford in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening, impressing as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3. He has played only 106 minutes in total so far this season.
Smith Rowe became a fan-favourite at the Emirates Stadium during the 2021/22 campaign, scoring ten goals and adding two assists in 33 Premier League games.
However, his development has since been severely hampered by injuries, missing much of Arsenal’s 2022/23 season with a groin problem and being displaced from his favoured left wing slot by Gabriel Martinelli.
90min understands that Smith Rowe, who has scored one goal in three appearances for the England senior side, has ambitions of making Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2024 and is desperate for more first-team opportunities this year.
As such, the 23-year-old will assess his options if he does not see an increase in game-time at Arsenal prior to the January window.
Aston Villa, who have made concrete attempts to sign Smith Rowe in the past, remain interested in him, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United are also monitoring the situation.
There is a possibility that Smith Rowe, whose contract runs until 2026, could be allowed to leave on loan for the second half of the 2023/24 season before returning to Arsenal. This would also open up the opportunity for foreign clubs to enter the race as it is unlikely they would be able to afford whatever permanent fee the Gunners would ask for.
Smith Rowe has previously spent time playing abroad with RB Leipzig, featuring three times for the Bundesliga side during a loan spell back in 2019.
Speaking after Wednesday’s win at Brentford, Smith Rowe admitted he has suffered with confidence issues, but ultimately he has changed his way of thinking and is ready to fight for his Arsenal place in the meantime.
“I have changed a bit of my mentality…just to go for it. I have not really got anything to lose. I have tried to change that inside me,” he said. “I used to have a lot of doubts. I used to question my confidence, at times. But now I am really strong. I am feeling really fit and I am taking that into now.
“The gaffer has really helped me with that. He was helping me through my injury and often pulled me for chats about how I can be mentally stronger. I tried to support the boys as much as I could when I couldn’t help them on the pitch. It was really tough but I am stronger now.”
He added: “When I heard [supporters cheering him onto the pitch] in the Champions League, it was a really proud moment for me and my family. It has been hard sometimes not coming on and sometimes [you are] disappointed, but this is life, this is football. You have got to keep going.”