Mikel Arteta does not believe the return of Martin Odegaard will hamper Emile Smith Rowe’s progress, instead believing the move is important to “protect” Arsenal’s number 10.
Arsenal announced two new signings on Friday, with Odegaard followed to Emirates Stadium by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Odegaard is already familiar with his surroundings, though, having spent the second half of the 2020-21 season on loan from Real Madrid.
During that time, he started just eight times alongside Smith Rowe in all competitions, although Arsenal won five of those matches.
Now back as a permanent signing, there could be concern Odegaard will limit opportunities for Smith Rowe, who has penned an improved contract and taken on a more prominent role for the new season following interest from Aston Villa.
While the pair are similar players, Odegaard is further ahead in his development and had a greater impact in the final third last term.
He created 2.1 chances and had 1.6 shots per 90 minutes, while Smith Rowe forged 1.7 opportunities and had 0.8 attempts.
But this issue was put to Arteta and he was not concerned, citing Smith Rowe’s relative inexperience having made his senior league bow with RB Leipzig in 2019 – five years after Odegaard broke into the Stromsgodset side as a 15-year-old.
“It’s the contrary,” the Gunners manager said. “What we want is to have Emile in a better place to develop him and have alternatives in that position.
“They are players that can play perfectly together – they showed that last year – and we cannot rely on one player. We already lost a lot of creative players.
“We cannot rely on one player with all the things he showed us, because Emile has never played 50 games at that level yet in his career.
“We will need to protect him and, for sure, we need other players that are able to do that as well.”