The talented teenager attracted interest from Camp Nou when emerging through the Gunners’ academy system, but he is happy to have stayed put
Emile Smith Rowe admits to having shunned interest from Barcelona in the past as Arsenal are “the right club” for him and his ongoing development.
The 18-year-old midfielder has made a senior breakthrough with the Gunners this season, opening his first-team goal account in the process.
He is the first player born in the 21st century to have netted for Arsenal and is considered to have a bright future, with a new long-term contract agreed over the summer.
Smith Rowe believes he is in the best place to unlock his undoubted potential, with admiring glances from Camp Nou having been ignored while emerging through a famed academy system in north London.
He told Sky Sports: “I used to watch that Barcelona team, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, when they were in their prime.
“So when I found out that they were interested of course I was very happy, but I can’t explain to you how much I feel that Arsenal is the right club for me.”
Smith Rowe has impressed for the Gunners in Europa League competition this term, but will play no part in a meeting with Qarabag on Thursday after picking up an injury in training.
There is, however, the promise of plenty more to come from him, with his sights being set on the very top.
He is determined to follow Jadon Sancho into the senior England squad, but is aware that he needs to earn a Premier League debut first.
“That’s my main goal at the moment,” Smith Rowe added.
“Just getting that first appearance behind me and hopefully going on from there and starting games.”
He has plenty of people around him at Emirates Stadium prepared to offer advice as he seeks to make another step up, with a number of fellow academy graduates also already in Unai Emery’s squad.
When asked which of those players he looks to for inspiration, Smith Rowe said: “It’s hard to pick anyone out now because they are all helping me, but it’s good speaking to Hector [Bellerin] and Alex [Iwobi] because they have been through it, they have been in my position.
“They just tell me to be confident. They say, ‘You’re obviously here for a reason, so be brave. When you make mistakes, don’t worry about it because you will get another chance’.”