Tottenham failed with an attempt to sign Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal’s academy, according to a former senior member of Spurs’ recruitment team.
The 20-year-old has made an impressive breakthrough under Mikel Arteta this season and his emergence is one of the positives from the Gunners’ inconsistent campaign.
Smith Rowe delivered another impressive display in Arsenal’s victory over Tottenham on Sunday, with Arteta highlighting the midfielder’s performance after the game.
And Tottenham’s former head of elite potential identification, David Webb, has revealed how Spurs came up short in their efforts to sign Smith Rowe after he impressed during a north London academy derby.
‘He played against Tottenham for the Under-18s and he really stood out in the No10 role,’ Webb told The Telegraph.
‘It was his movement off the ball that was so eye-catching, and his work-rate as well. For a young player, that sometimes does not come in until later in their development.
‘We tried to sign him before he signed his scholarship at Arsenal. ‘He was a player that fitted the way Mauricio Pochettino played and even at 16 we were looking at him as a potential young player who could progress into the first team.’
Speaking last month, former Arsenal academy coach Andries Jonker admitted that Smith Rowe has proved him wrong following his breakthrough under Arteta.
‘He was always motivated and dedicated as an academy player. He has always been very stable with his performances,’ Jonker told TV2.
‘We definitely thought he could have a career in football, but I don’t think many predicted that he would get in the first team of Arsenal.
‘He was a talent with a solid head, but he was never looked like the greatest talent in the academy. ‘I’m very proud of what he’s achieving at the moment because he’s really put in all the work himself.
He was someone you could trust, someone who was rarely injured.’