Mikel Arteta sends message to West Ham over transfer rumours for out-of-favour Arsenal fan favourite

Mikel Arteta insists he is ready to give Emile Smith Rowe chances to shine in the second half of the season amid speculation he could be deemed surplus to requirements

Arteta’s decision to sanction the signings of Fabio Vieira and Kai Havertz in successive summers has, meanwhile, intensified the level of competition for places.

Having returned to fitness, Smith Rowe was assured he was part of Arteta’s plan earlier this month but he could have been forgiven for feeling dejected after he was afforded just two minutes to impress against Liverpool in an FA Cup third round defeat prior to the winter break.

Moreover, Smith Rowe has made just a solitary Premier League start so far this season and hasn’t scored a goal for his boyhood club since April 2022.

Despite his inactivity, the 23-year-old remains a firm fans’ favourite and the midfielder is understood to be willing to fight for his future, amid reported interest from West Ham.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s return to action against Crystal Palace on Saturday, Arteta was asked about Smith Rowe’s future and said: ‘I’m really happy with Emile

He is on the right trajectory, he’s training really well but you know very well I won’t talk about individual situations.

‘There’s been no change, Emile is Emile. He’s got incredible qualities, we are happy to have him. What he needs now is chances, we have to give him minutes.’

Whether Smith Rowe is afford a chance against the Eagles remains to be seen but with Arteta still juggling an injury ravaged squad, the likelihood of him playing a part remains a realistic one.

We still have a few who we haven’t managed to get back yet, hopefully they are much closer and in a better place than expected,’ said Arteta on the health of the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko. We are touch and go with a few.’

‘It was great,’ Arteta added when asked about the Dubai trip. ‘A phenomenal camp in every sense.

‘We recharged our batteries. The togetherness and the moments we shared together were great, We are fully recharged.’

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