Mikel Arteta has praised Emile Smith Rowe’s professionalism amid his request to don the number 10 shirt for Arsenal.
The 20-year-old midfielder was announced to have signed a new, long-term deal with the Gunners on Thursday, and with it came a new Arsenal squad number.
He claimed the vacant number 10, having previously been worn by Mesut Ozil, moving from his former selection of 32.
The number itself carries plenty of weight having been worn by a number of the club’s historical icons including Dennis Bergkamp, Robin van Persie, Paul Merson and many more.
Arteta has suggested that Smith Rowe’s request to be its next claimant indicates his intention to succeed with Arsenal in the near future, both on a personal and team level.
Talking to the Gunners’ official website, the Spaniard said: “He asked for [the No 10 shirt], so that shows you the ambition and desire.
“I prefer players who ask for more than maybe they can take but if they believe they can do it, don’t put a limit on it. When he asked me and asked the club that he would like to get that [number], okay, let’s go.
“We talked a little bit, we discussed it and he knows the consequences of that, but he feels prepared to do it and if he is prepared to do it, then I am going to be right behind him to try to make him as comfortable and as happy as possible to do what he wants to do.”
Meanwhile, Smith Rowe himself has made no secret of the responsibility he feels having been granted the iconic shirt.
The midfielder said: “The legends that have played here and have worn the shirt… it’s a bit too much right now but I’m sure I will calm down after a while!
“When I was younger I used to watch Dennis Bergkamp, and when I was going through the academy Mesut Ozil was here as well and getting the opportunity to train with him and play with him as well was unbelievable.
“I just want to keep working hard and hopefully I can play like them and replicate what they’ve done.”
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