Rio Ferdinand has expressed his concerns for Emile Smith Rowe ahead of Martin Odegaard’s imminent arrival at Arsenal from Real Madrid.
Arsenal are expected to confirm the signing of Odegaard from the Spanish champions on a loan deal until the end of the season, the Norway international having expressed a desire to leave the Bernabeu in search of regular first-team football.
The 22-year-old became the most talked about teenager in world football when signing for Los Blancos six years ago, but his progress has been quieter since with the youngster spending time on loan at the likes of Heerenveen, Vitesse and an impressive spell at Real Sociedad last season.
Ferdinand admits he is looking forward to seeing the midfielder in the Premier League and believes Odegaard can help provide the creativity that Arsenal have lacked his season, though has raised his concerns around the first-team place of academy graduate Smith Rowe who has excelled since breaking into the side last month.
“I’ve heard about this kid for a long time now,” Ferdinand told Five. “He had a good loan spell in Spain at Sociedad and did really well.
“He’s got potential, 100%. It’s about Mikel Arteta unlocking that. I think this kid is a talent, there’s no doubting that. But he’s got to find a home now. Hopefully at Arsenal.
“I want him to do well. Arteta had a reputation when he was at City, and now, here at Arsenal for getting the best out of young players, hopefully that follows true with this player.
“That’s the only thing that worries me. If he comes in and takes someone like Emile Smith Rowe’s position, I’ll be devastated. Because he’s come in and done unreal things. The way he’s played, he’s been a breath of fresh air at Arsenal, I’m sure the fans if they were there would be going crazy about him.
“He brings assists, he brings a calmness to the way Arsenal play. He’s the type of player who could have played over a number of generations at Arsenal in the way he plays football. So I hope he doesn’t come in and kind of stunt his growth in the team because he’s been really good the last few weeks.”