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Emile Smith Rowe is setting his sights on Mesut Ozil’s No.10 role at Arsenal, with the 19-year-old eager to follow the lead of Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka by becoming a first-team regular.
An England U20 playmaker is considered to be one of the hottest prospects to have emerged from a famed academy system in north London.
Smith Rowe has taken in 12 senior appearances for Arsenal to date, recording three goals, but has also been forced to look for game time away from Emirates Stadium.
He currently finds himself out on loan at Championship side Huddersfield, with a short-term deal agreed with the Terriers in January.
Smith Rowe intends to make the most of any minutes he sees in the second tier, allowing him to go and compete with a World Cup-winning mentor for a prominent position in Arsenal’s side.
“I like to be versatile and I can also play in other positions. But I probably would say I do enjoy playing in the No. 10 position the most,” Smith Rowe told The National.
“At Arsenal, I look up to Mesut Ozil a lot.
“I watch him in training and the movement he has and the little touches he does. For me to train with him every day, I can’t think of anything better.”
Smith Rowe is also looking to take inspiration from a number of other iconic figures – some who boast strong ties to Arsenal and others who have starred elsewhere.
He said: “My dream was always to play for Arsenal.
“I used to watch Thierry Henry a lot. Dennis Bergkamp was definitely a player I always looked up to. We play in a similar position. Freddie Ljungberg was there and he is working at Arsenal now, helping all the young players.
“In that era when Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi were in the Barcelona team, I used to watch almost every game with my dad.
“Since Kevin de Bruyne joined Manchester City, I like to base my game around him. I look up to him so much. I just like the way he plays and everything he does.”
With the perfect role models in place, Smith Rowe believes he is capable of emulating fellow teenagers Martinelli and Saka by cementing a spot in Mikel Arteta’s plans.
He said: “I am obviously happy for all the other boys but I definitely want to go back and play as well. I think it will be great if more young players play.”
On his immediate future, Smith Rowe added: “Nothing has been confirmed yet.
“The main thing is to finish the season with Huddersfield as strong and as well as I can and then go back to Arsenal in pre-season and we will see what happens.”