Nigel Winterburn has challenged on-loan Arsenal star Martin Odegaard to prove he is better than Emile Smith Rowe after his move from Real Madrid.
The Norwegian completed his six-month deal to the Gunners earlier this week as he joined up with Madrid teammate Dani Ceballos in north London.
Speaking to Freesupertips (via Goal), the former Highbury claimed that the Croydon-born youngster would not be pulled from the team immediately given his impact thus far.
Winterburn said: “By bringing in Martin Odegaard, Mikel Arteta needs to be careful of how he integrates him with Emile Smith-Rowe. He [Smith-Rowe] has come in and had such a huge impact in a short time, so Arteta won’t want to pull him out of the team.”
“The manager will want a long-term project where Smith-Rowe progresses into becoming a star of the future for Arsenal. Odegaard coming in increases competition for places. Smith-Rowe is the starter now.”
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It will be interesting to see how Arteta balances the two players given how well Smith Rowe has done in his short cameo for the club. His impact has been quite devastating with the 20-year-old, scoring once and assisting five times in just seven games since his start against Chelsea.
However, Odegaard proves to be an incredibly talented option off the bench as shown during his stint with Real Sociedad last season where the £36m-rated Norway international thrived in the number 10 role.
With games coming thick and fast from now until May, there will be plenty of opportunities to play both the young guns. However, you have to feel that with the £20k-p/w Englishman being homegrown and a permanent member of the first-team squad, it’d be better to invest more effort into developing him rather than kicking him out for a temporary solution like Odegaard.