At the end of the January transfer window, Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe joined German Bundesliga outfit RP Leipzig on loan for the rest of the season.
It was reported after the loan deal went through that Smith Rowe was suffering from a groin injury and it was unlikely that he would restart full training until March.
At the time I found it odd that Arsenal had sent an injured player out on loan to gain first team experience. He picked up the groin strain whilst training with Arsenal in December.
Smith Rowe’s recovery has been slower than expected and it was only this week that he finally returned to full team training.
With just 7 Bundesliga game left to play, it would be surprising if 18-year-old Smith Rowe sees much game time with Champions League chasing RP Leipzig, who currently sit 3rd.
Recently Smith Rowe sat down with Arsenal’s official YouTube channel to discuss his experience so far in Germany.
“The Bundesliga is a really good league,” Smith Rowe told Arsenal’s official YouTube channel. “There are a lot of good players here and big teams as well. It’s like the Premier League really. Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig, Hoffenheim, Schalke – all big teams, all Champions League teams really. I think it’s a great opportunity.”
“I can’t wait to play in front of the fans,” he admitted. “I think it will be really good. Obviously the stadium is really big and it’s a great atmosphere. When I first went to one of the games, the fans were just always singing. Obviously that happens at Arsenal as well, but over here it’s just crazy.”
“I think it’s definitely a big step at such a young age, but I think that’s a great experience,” he explained. “Seeing Reiss and other young players take the step, obviously doing well and enjoying themselves, that has really boosted my confidence.
“It really gave me the impression that this was something I wanted to do and I obviously took the risk. I just can’t wait to get fit and play.”
As it stands, it feels like sending Smith Rowe abroad has been a big waste of time. That the only thing he would have gained is an experience of living abroad for 4 months, and that he will return with less than 100 Bundesliga minutes under his belt.
Whilst at Arsenal, he had played 6 games this season across the Europa League and League Cup; scoring 3 goals. He had also been on the bench for a handful of Premier League games. He was progressing well.
It is then very odd that Arsenal would agree sending him out on loan, knowing that he was injured and unlikely to play.
The logical conclusion is that Arsenal plan to leave Smite Rowe at RB Leipzig next season as well.
The club knew he was out injured, and would unlikely feature for Arsenal in the run in – especially following the signing of Denis Suarez. So a decision was made to send him to Germany early to allow him to acclimatise.
Whilst he has not played for RB Leipzig as of yet, he has spent every day at their training facility, under the eyes of their coaches, living in Germany.
It would mean that were he to go on loan next season to Leipzig, he would not need a couple of months acclimatising. He could do a full pre-season for them, and be ready to joining their 1st team squad for the first game of the season.
A full year playing week in week out in a top league will do wonders for the playmaker, and it makes sense for him to spend next season in Germany.
If he is going to be at Leipzig next season, it then makes sense that he joined in January despite it being unlikely that he will play.
Many at Arsenal see him as a long term replacement for Aaron Ramsey in the squad. Next season will be a year too early for him. But in 2020 he would return to the club with a full Bundesliga season under his belt and having only just turned 20.