Arsenal are set to sign Martin Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season from Real Madrid this week. The Gunners have been desperate to sign a creative midfielder in recent months after Mikel Arteta left Mesut Ozil out of his Arsenal squad for the Premier League and Europa League this season.
Ozil's departure to Fenerbahce has created room in the Arsenal squad, and their wage bill, for them to sign new players. Arsenal have also managed to show Sead Kolasinac, and Sokratis the exit door in recent weeks.
The signing of Odegaard has come as a surprise to many fans and pundits given that Arsenal youth-product, Emile Smith Rowe has been in superb form since being thrust into the first-team by Mikel Arteta.
Smith Rowe has scored twice and provided five assists in his last 10 games for Arsenal, and has been heavily praised by his manager for his performances. The 20-year-old has played a key role in Arsenal improving after a horrendous start to the campaign.
Rio Ferdinand is concerned that Smith Rowe's development will be affected by the arrivals of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid. Odegaard will come with a massive reputation, and a weight of expectation on his shoulders, and is likely to become the first-choice attacking midfielder.
"I've heard about this kid for a long time now. He had a good loan spell in Spain at Sociedad and did really well. He's got potential, 100%. It's about Mikel Arteta unlocking that. I think this kid is a talent, there's no doubting that. But he's got to find a home now. Hopefully at Arsenal," Ferdinand said on Five.
Ferdinand believes that Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe should be persisted with by Arteta
Emile Smith Rowe is likely to be limited to appearances in Cup competitions, and substitute appearances in the Premier League now that Arsenal have signed Martin Odegaard.
Rio Ferdinand however, hopes that Arsenal and Mikel Arteta will continue to develop Smith Rowe, and get the best out of the young midfielder.
"I want him to do well. Arteta had a reputation when he was at City and now here at Arsenal for getting the best out of young players, hopefully that follows true with this player. That's the only thing that worries me. If he comes in and takes someone like Emile Smith Rowe's position, I'll be devastated."
"Because he's come in and done unreal things. The way he's played, he's been a breath of fresh air at Arsenal, I'm sure the fans if they were therewould be going crazy about him. He brings assists, he brings a calmness to the way Arsenal play. He's the type of player who could have played over a number of generations at Arsenal in the way he plays football."
Smith Rowe is likely to be handed a number of opportunities given that Arsenal have a potentially gruelling Europa League campaign ahead of them. The Gunners will also be looking to challenge for the Champions League places this season.