Tottenham’s former head of elite potential identification David Webb has revealed that Spurs were keen on signing Emile Smith-Rowe from Arsenal when he was just 16 years old.
Smith-Rowe has made a massive impact on the Arsenal first-team under Mikel Arteta this season and looks set to have a promising career at the top level.
The midfielder was one of the stars of the show for the Gunners in their 2-1 win over Tottenham, with the Spurs midfield and backline struggling to cope with his movement off the ball.
It turns out that the 20-year-old could have potentially lined up in a Spurs shirt for Sunday’s clash had things worked out differently.
The Telegraph reveals that the Croydon-born youngster impressed the Tottenham scouts when he was playing for Arsenal’s Under-18s against the Lilywhites.
Those at Spurs reportedly felt at the time that the midfielder would be a perfect fit for Mauricio Pochettino’s style of play and tried their best to bring him to the club but ultimately failed to do so.
Webb said about Tottenham’s pursuit of Smith-Rowe: “He played against Tottenham for the Under-18s and he really stood out in the No10 role.”
“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.”
The report goes on to reveal that Arsenal were aware of the interest from their local rivals as well as from various European clubs and managed to persuade him to stay.
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