Emile Smith Rowe is now being called “Kev” by the Arsenal squad as part of comparisons to Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne. The 20-year-old has been an integral part of the dramatic turnaround in north London in recent weeks, following three wins on the spin against Chelsea, Brighton and West Brom.
Arteta was feeling the heat throughout December following a dismal start to the season but the Spaniard is finally starting to turn the tide at the Emirates Stadium.
His young contingent of academy stars have been at the heart of that with Bukayo Saka and Smith Rowe not regulars in the starting XI.
The former RB Leipzig loanee impressed has impressed in the Europa League and Carabao Cup but now Arteta is taking his senior development to the next level.
It looks like Smith Rowe may be Arsenal’s long-term successor to Mesut Ozil in the No 10 role.
Smith Rowe has made no secret of the fact De Bruyne is one of his idols and said the Manchester City maestro is: “someone I really look up to”.
He added: “I enjoy playing at No.10 the most. I love driving towards goal with the ball.
“Some people have compared my playing style to Kevin De Bruyne’s and that’s a very nice compliment because he’s a great player and someone I really look up to.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can from watching De Bruyne and working hard in training with all of the world-class players around me.”
Arteta has been so impressed by Smith Rowe, that he has reportedly shaped his transfer plans around the attacking midfielder.
Arsenal had been keen on bringing Isco to the club in January on loan from Real Madrid.
Those plans have now been scrapped, with Arteta willing to utilise Smith Rowe as his No 10.
Smith Rowe has previously laid on record his desire to learn from Ozil in training but the World Cup winner could now be on his way to Fenerbahce.
Ozil has already given Smith Rowe his seal of approval ahead of his potential exit, something that will do the youngster’s confidence the world of good: “Team looks good with a No10 like Emile Smith Rowe – the difference-maker.”