Martin Odegaard’s arrival at Arsenal will threaten Emile Smith Rowe’s development

For Arsenal, Emile Smith Rowe has undoubtedly been the savior of the season.

Since joining the Gunners’ starting lineup in the Premier League, Arsenal have been fantastic domestically. He’s led them to four wins and a draw in the last five games, offering three assists and turning their season around.

The 20-year-old gave Arsenal the kind of creativity they were hoping to find by spending a lot in the January transfer market, and he turned the Gunners into a real threat.

Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe transformed Arsenal’s season | Julian Finney / Getty Images

It is now understood that he should be rewarded with an outstanding new contract, but on top of that Arsenal are now looking to reward Smith Rowe with a huge threat to his young club career.

Real Madrid playmaker Martin Odegaard is set to seal six-month loan at Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal stressing the need to spin someone with Smith Rowe and guide him to the end of the season.

On the one hand, this is quite true. Relying so much on a 20-year-old with seven Premier League appearances to his name is a recipe for disaster. Arsenal need someone to shoulder the burden 100%.

However, that replacement probably shouldn’t be someone who comes to the Emirates to take most of Smith Rowe’s minutes.

Martin Odegaard
Odegaard will wait minutes | Denis Doyle / Getty Images

Smith Rowe needs consistent playing time if he is to become the kind of player Arsenal can count on. He doesn’t have to play 38 games and 90 minutes every week, but he has to play more often than not.

Sadly, you have to say the same about Odegaard.

The 22-year-old former Wonderkid has found his career at a crossroads. Despite an impressive loan spell with Real Sociedad last season, he is not yet at the level he needs to be to play for Real.

Zinedine Zidane has given Odegaard a total of 367 minutes this season – five starts and four substitutes – forcing the Norwegian to go on loan to try and find more minutes.

Mikel Arteta
Arteta convinced Odegaard to come | Robin Jones / Getty Images

He chose Arsenal, with manager Mikel Arteta believed to have personally convinced Odegaard to choose the Emirates as the perfect place for his development. This Probably means Arteta has promised him minutes.

Odegaard will tip Arsenal in hopes of being a regular starter, but the problem is that Smith Rowe currently demands – and deserves – the same. There is only one seat # 10, just ask Mesut Ozil.

For Arteta, there has to be a delicate balance in the situation, but there is a real possibility that no one wins. If Smith Rowe is playing too much, Odegaard is not playing enough. If they play 50:50, both will fail.

Having two wonders fighting for one place can be a recipe for disaster. We have seen many players choose to leave their club due to a lack of confidence in their development path – Tariq Lamptey leaving Chelsea for Brighton is a recent example.

Fortunately for Arsenal, Odegaard is only there on loan. Even if Smith Rowe doesn’t play enough this year, he will be the last man standing in 2021/22. The should not be a long term problem on that front.

However, for the rest of this season figuring out how to balance Smith Rowe and Odegaard could be a real problem.

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