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Emile Smith Rowe has become the sixth young British talent to join a Bundesliga team in the last two years. - © 2018 Getty Images
Emile Smith Rowe has become the sixth young British talent to join a Bundesliga team in the last two years. - © 2018 Getty Images

Emile Smith Rowe: Who is RB Leipzig’s new Arsenal loan signing and the next English talent journeying to the Bundesliga?


After the success of signing Ademola Lookman from English Premier League side Everton, Ralf Rangnick and RB Leipzig have once again turned to a young English talent for a loan boost heading into the second half of the season. This time, a young midfielder likened to Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Wilshere.

Emile Smith Rowe

Age: 18
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Attacking midfielder (left/right/central)
Country: England (four U19 caps, one goal)

Key stats

Born and raised in Croydon, London, Smith Rowe joined Arsenal at the age of nine and has been with his boyhood club ever since. Having progressed through the club’s ranks, the now 18-year-old joined Unai Emery’s first pre-season tour with Arsenal to Singapore, and scored against Atletico Madrid two days before his 18th birthday. Since then, he’s gone on to score three times in six senior appearances this season having signed a long-term contract with the club. He was also a key member of England’s U17 World Cup winning team in 2017, which included Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

Emile Smith Rowe scored against Atletico Madrid during pre-season, and also impressed against Paris-Saint Germain. - 2018 Getty Images

Plays a bit like: Kevin De Bruyne

An attacking midfielder who can operate from the left or right side, as well as through the middle, Smith Rowe is a fearless attack-minded playmaker on the pitch. He hasn’t quite mastered the passing range that the Belgian former Bundesliga star possesses, but who would expect that of an 18-year-old? The comparison comes from the runs he makes from midfield. Often coming deep to claim possession, Smith Rowe will more often than not drive the ball forward alone with a deadly burst of acceleration picked up from his training with Team Great Britain’s sprint coaches – which he has done every summer since the age of 13. The teenager’s dribbling skills and close control is a reason the comparisons with former Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, and also why he can be so dangerous on the ball, as being fouled is usually the only way to dispossess the youngster.

Did you know?

Despite his confident play on the pitch, Smith Rowe admits he has never been a totally self-assured person or player. “My coaches used to tell me I needed to be more confident because I was very quiet,” Smith Rowe told Sky Sports. “I didn’t really speak to anyone at the training ground and I didn’t really talk on the pitch. I still get nervous before games, but I’ve been getting stronger now. I feel proper confident when I get on the ball.”

He has been taking one-on-one sessions with one of Arsenal’s club psychologists the help bring out his confidence further in recent months, which has shown on the pitch so far in 2018/19.

Emile Smith Rowe played with Reiss Nelson - now of Hoffenheim - during his time with Arsenal, and the loan pair could face each other on 25 February. - 2018 Getty Images

What they’re saying

“I’ve met a lot of big-headed people and I really don’t want to be like that. My family have helped me to stay humble and keep my feet on the ground. When I step out on the pitch, I still feel like I have everything to prove to everyone.” – Emile Smith Rowe

"He has a little bit of all the qualities [Wilshere] has: physical, mentality and quality with his right foot. If I can say one condition, for me, it's his mentality. He is humble and listens every day in training, in the video analysis and also before the match to continue improving and to keep taking one step more.” – Arsenal head coach Unai Emery

"We’ve been watching the lad for several months. He adds a lot to our game, I think we suit his qualities as well, and he’s capable of playing in a number of attacking positions." - RB Leipzig head coach and sporting director Ralf Rangnick