Gary Neville: Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe 'more clinical' than Cristiano Ronaldo was at same age
Gary Neville claims that Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe is "more clinical" than Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age
Gary Neville has claimed that Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe is “more clinical” than Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo was at the same age.
The 21-year-old has made a brilliant start to the 2021-22 Premier League season with a return of two goals and two assists in nine appearances this term.
Smith Rowe created Thomas Partey’s opener before the Arsenal youngster got on the score-sheet himself in the north London side’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at The Emirates on Friday night.
The Arsenal number 10 has established himself as a key member of Mikel Arteta’s squad despite his young age thanks to his attacking returns in the first XI.
Smith Rowe has even managed to move above Martin Odegaard in the pecking order after the English playmaker started ahead of the £40m summer signing last week.
Sky Sports pundit Neville described Smith Rowe as a “beautiful footballer” before comparing the Arsenal midfielder to Ronaldo in the Manchester United team in the 2000s.
“Cristiano was the first person I ever heard to say he undoubtedly wanted to be the best player in the world,” Neville told Sky Sports, as quoted by Metro.
“It’s quite unusual to hear a player [say that] because everybody talks about the team and the collective. To hear Mo Salah say it is refreshing.
“I think you can say these things when you are delivering, and these two have delivered now consistently.
“Ronaldo now for 10, 15 years and Mo Salah for five, six years, and beyond. They are absolutely deadly. They are ruthless and clinical.
“Everything that Smith Rowe [wants to be], he’s a beautiful footballer Smith Rowe, and he’s got a long way to go in his career. Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t as clinical and ruthless at that age.
“But that’s where he has got to get to – to the point where by every single game, they want to be the best. They want to score the winner. They believe they are going to score the winner. Confidence is unbelievable.”
Smith Rowe has scored 10 times in 55 games in all competitions over the past four seasons.
The Arsenal manager recently revealed that Smith Rowe has made adjustments to his life off the pitch that he believes are helping the 21-year-old to perform at a higher level in the Premier League.
“I’m really pleased that he’s now developing that. But he still needs to develop more in other areas,” Arteta is quoted as saying by The Sun.
“The other night against Crystal Palace he wasn’t 100 per cent fit but he made a step forward and wanted to play with a difficult injury that he had. He wasn’t complaining – he was just looking forward.
“Emile’s changed the way that he’s living a little bit as well and some habits that he had.
“When you want to take your game to the next level, when you become a really important player in such a big club, that should become the only priority and every detail is important and relevant.
“You have to make them aware of that – you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences.
“He’s changed that and credit to him and the staff here that are monitoring and trying to build that education with him. It will get only better.”
Arsenal will make the trip to Leicester City in their next Premier League game at the King Power Stadium on Saturday lunchtime. The Gunners are in 10th place in the Premier League table.