Arsenal latest news: Per Mertesacker praised as Emile Smith Rowe gets England call-up


Journalist Paul Brown has paid tribute to the role that Per Mertesacker has played in the development of Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka.

The young pair have been the shining light on Arsenal in 2021 and two of their standout players in the Premier League this season.

But Brown reckons that Mertesacker, who’s the club’s academy coach, played a huge part in their rise to becoming two of the Premier League’s hottest prospects.

Despite Saka being nine months younger than his teammate, he’s been part of the Gunners’ first-team for some time and is already a regular on the international stage, whilst Smith Rowe is only in his first first season at Premier League level and was rewarded earlier this afternoon with his first England call-up following Marcus Rashford’s withdrawal.

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How have Saka and Smith Rowe performed this season?

Many will see Saka as Arsenal’s best player following his exploits over the last three years, but there’s no doubt Smith Rowe is Mikel Arteta’s main man at present.

According to WhoScored, whilst Saka has been their ninth best player this season, Smith Rowe is at the top of the list with a rating of 7.14 this campaign.

20-year-old, Saka hasn’t contributed much outside of his display in the north London derby when he scored one and assisted another, although the same can’t be said about the latter.



Smith Rowe has scored goals in each of Arsenal’s last three games against Aston Villa, Leicester and Watford and is the club’s joint-top scorer alongside talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

With Smith Rowe and Saka both in the England squad for the first time, Brown reckons that Mertesacker deserves credit for his work at academy level.

What did Brown say?

He told GIVEMESPORT: “I think Smith Rowe and Saka were on the way before he took the job, but he’s certainly helped polish them and given them confidence to get them in the first-team .”

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When could Smith Rowe win his first England cap?

Whilst he’s one of the most form players in the Premier League, it’s worth remembering that England’s attacking department is an extremely competitive one.

But Gareth Southgate has gone with two different teams in recent qualifiers, which could be the case with games against Albania and San Marino.

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Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling are all likely to start against the latter at Wembley on Friday, which could pave the way for Smith Rowe to play some part and make his debut against the minnows next Monday.

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