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Newcastle United, Aston Villa 'leading race for Emile Smith Rowe'

Newcastle, Aston Villa 'leading race for Emile Smith Rowe'
© Reuters
Newcastle United and Aston Villa reportedly lead the race for Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe, whom the Gunners could consider offloading in the summer transfer window.

Newcastle United and Aston Villa are at the head of the queue for out-of-favour Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, according to a report.

Alongside the likes of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson, Smith Rowe graduated from the Gunners' Hale End academy and quickly made a name for himself under Mikel Arteta.

The 23-year-old's introduction to regular first-team action in the second half of the 2020-21 season was credited with turning Arsenal's season around, and his breakthrough year arrived in the next campaign.

Thriving off the left, Smith Rowe netted 10 goals and set up two more in the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, as the North London club just missed out on qualification for the Champions League.

However, due to injuries, the form of Gabriel Martinelli and additional competition in the shape of Leandro Trossard, Smith Rowe has now been demoted to a bit-part role at the Emirates Stadium, playing just 15 times in the current campaign and banking one assist.

Emile Smith Rowe in action for England Under-21s on March 28, 2023© Reuters

The England international has made the first XI just twice in the 2023-24 Premier League season, and he only earned six minutes off the bench against Burnley on Saturday following an ankle injury.

As well as falling down the left-wing pecking order, Smith Rowe is behind Kai Havertz, Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard and Jorginho in the midfield food chain, and he has not played for the senior England team since March 2022.

The 23-year-old remains a favourite among Gooners, but with his contract expiring in the summer of 2026, it has been reported that Arsenal will consider selling him in the upcoming transfer window.

According to Football Insider, Newcastle and Aston Villa are currently well-positioned to prise the midfielder away from the English capital, and Arsenal are braced for approaches from both sides.

Villa have already tried and failed to poach Smith Rowe from Arsenal, lodging one £25m bid and one £30m bid for the Englishman in 2021, but the Gunners rejected their advances as they tied Smith Rowe down to a new long-term contract.

Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe looks dejected after being substituted due to injury on March 4, 2023© Reuters

Current Lions boss Unai Emery handed Smith Rowe his Arsenal debut back in the 2018-19 campaign, bringing the midfielder off the bench in a 4-2 Europa League triumph over Vorskla Poltava for one of his six appearances in that season.

The 23-year-old has now represented Arsenal's first team on 111 occasions, registering 18 goals and 12 assists in the process, as well as winning two Community Shield crowns.

Smith Rowe could be one of a few Gunners lynchpins to seek out a new destination this summer, as Jorginho and Mohamed Elneny are both due to become free agents in June, although the former's deal includes a 12-month extension option.

Meanwhile, the injury-riddled Thomas Partey is now in the final 18 months of his current contract, and Arsenal are expected to entertain appropriate bids due to his consistent struggles for fitness.

However, both Partey and groin victim Fabio Vieira are in with a chance of recovering in time for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg away to Porto.

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