Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has openly ruled out any possibility of Emile Smith Rowe leaving the club this summer amid strong interest from Aston Villa. His words regarding the future of Joe Willock, however, were less clear.
Aston Villa have been a bit of a nuisance for Arsenal when it comes to this transfer window. They moved decisively to sign Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City, who was considered by the Gunners as an alternative target should their pursuit of Martin Odegaard fail. It has, but Buendia is now out of their reach.
Not satisfied with preventing the Gunners from adding to their attacking midfield ranks, they’ve made attempts to prize one of their own players from that section directly. They’ve submitted two offers for Smith Rowe so far, both rejected straight away, and there are reports of a third one being prepared.
However, speaking to the press after Arsenal’s pre-season defeat to Scottish side Hibernian, Arteta firmly rejected all possibility of the 20-year-old leaving the Emirates. Asked if Smith Rowe would be staying put, he was very clear.
“Without a question,” he said. “Yes. He will stay here. 100 per cent.”
Things are bit different when it comes to Willock, it seems. The 21-year-old is back with the team following a successful loan spell at Newcastle, but he missed the Hibernian match through a minor injury issue, as Arteta explained.
“Well he wasn’t involved today because he had a little groin issue. He trained yesterday really well but we didn’t want to risk him. Joe is part of our plans, he’s our player and in the time that he is here we will try to make the most out of him. He had a great experience on loan. He was, I think one of the most important players for their survival.”
Newcastle are reportedly keen on taking Willock back to St. James Park.