Football

Wright sounds Saka & Smith Rowe transfer warning to stagnating Arsenal


The Gunners great fears a lack of progress in north London will lead to top talents being targeted in upcoming windows

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has warned that a lack of progress at Emirates Stadium is becoming a “massive concern”, with there a very real threat that the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe will soon be targeted by other clubs.

The 2020-21 campaign has become another forgettable one for the Gunners, with Mikel Arteta’s side stuck in mid-table and set to finish the season empty-handed after bowing out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage.

Impressive development from a number of academy graduates has offered some cause for optimism heading forward, but Wright fears stagnation as a collective could result in promising talents being lured to pastures new.

What has been said?

Former Arsenal striker Wright has told Premier League Productions: “Talking about him [Smith-Rowe] and Saka, you’re hoping Arsenal can match their progression because if they don’t, then clubs will try and take them off of us.

“It is a massive concern. It is a massive concern that are Arsenal are able to sort out whatever is going on upstairs, with the manager, with the players that are going to come in, whoever he is going to bring in to try and execute whatever game plan he wants to do, because these guys are going to be a major part of that.

“If they continue to play well, if we do not progress as quickly as these guys progress, then you have to be worried about their ambition and what they want to do because they’re fantastic players.”

How have Smith Rowe and Saka fared this season?

Emile Smith-Rowe, Saka

Saka has become an important part of Arteta’s plans in the 2020-21 campaign, with the versatile 19-year-old earning a new contract and 43 appearances across all competitions.

He has hit seven goals through those outings, provided a further seven assists and become a senior England international.

Smith Rowe, at 20 years of age, is not yet at that point, but he has emerged as a potential successor to Mesut Ozil in a playmaking No.10 post for Arsenal.

He broke a Premier League goal duck in his last outing against West Brom, with the hope being that a promising playmaker can kick on from here and become a more productive asset in the final third.

Wright added on Smith Rowe’s development: “It’s the one thing he wants to do. He wants to add more goals. He has been playing really well.

“The only thing left for him to do for his game – because he has got everything, one touch, two touch, round the corner, pace – is to add more goals to his game.”

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