Arsenal continue to fight off Aston Villa’s attempts to sign Emile Smith Rowe after the West Midlands club saw their latest offer of £30million rejected.
That comes after an opening rejected bid made last week which was thought to be in the region of £25million.
As things stand, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder is yet to agree on a new deal at the Emirates Stadium, with his current one set to expire in two years.
However, the club are adamant that the academy graduate is not for sale and negotiations with his representatives continue to take place.
Arsenal’s robust approach to Villa’s interest should not come as a surprise based on the capabilities of Smith Rowe and the potential he has to be one of the Premier League’s best players in the not so distant future.
His standout capabilities are best illustrated when he’s compared to other U21 players from across Europe’s top five leagues last season.
From a group of 49 U21 players who played more than 1000 senior league minutes, he ranked sixth best in terms of having the highest Expected Assists per 90 average (0.16). He also ranked eighth in terms of key passes made per 90 (0.53) and tenth in terms of the highest number of shot assists per 90 (1.13).
Villa are eager to add more creativity to their squad and alleviate some of the burden on the shoulders of Jack Grealish. Dean Smith has already achieved this to a degree by bringing in exciting former Norwich City attacker Emiliano Buendia, a player Arsenal were keen to sign.
Yet his pursuit of Smith-Rowe indicates that he either thinks his side needs even more innovation from the middle, or it could signal that he might be planning for life after Jack Grealish, who has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, amongst other sides this summer.
Smith-Rowe’s age, playing style and ability makes him the ideal candidate for Villa, yet he’s an Arsenal player and the above impressive numbers highlight why they have absolutely no intention of letting him leave.
Get the latest Arsenal transfer news straight to your inbox
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
By signing up to our newsletter here, you’ll be kept up to date on the latest news and rumours as they break, all in one place. You’ll also receive exclusive insight and articles from club writers Chris Wheatley and Kaya Kaynak, all for free.
We also want to hear from you. Create an account here in just a few moments, so you can have your say on all things Arsenal, join the debate and take part in exclusive Q&As as well.
There are only a handful of exciting prospects from across Europe replicating his output in key attacking areas, and very few boasting homegrown English status. In fact only one stands out, and that’s Manchester City’s Phil Foden.
Foden had the chance to go out on loan, and potentially move on from City, with interest from the likes of Tottenham and Everton in recent seasons, but decided to stay put.
Aware of how high his ceiling is, it’s unlikely that Foden would be allowed to leave by Pep Guardiola, and even if he was, it’d most likely cost any interested party north of £80million to land him.
With that in mind, it’s clear why Arsenal have been so swift in rejecting Villa’s advances and expect the same to continue, barring a seismic increase in a third offer made.