The future looks bright for the Gunners if Keown’s bold prediction proves correct, with a young player in their ranks with Ronaldo’s potential.
Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe has the potential to become as great as five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, says Martin Keown.
The 20-year-old has broken into the first-team squad recently, having spent the last few seasons featuring sparingly or going out on loan. His progress over the last few months has been impressive and credited as a factor behind the club’s improved form.
And while an injured Smith Rowe was replaced by substitute Martin Odegaard, who made his Real Madrid debut as a substitute for Ronaldo, during Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Leicester City on Sunday, Keown made a daring prediction.
Comparing the Gunners youngster to Ronaldo, he said: “[He] isn’t that good yet, but he might be in the future.”
Who else has Smith Rowe been compared to?
Believe it or not, Ronaldo is one of a long list of names Smith Rowe has been compared to over the last year.
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, for one, is a name that has frequently been mentioned. In fact, Arsenal fans and some of his teammates nicknamed have him as the ‘Croydon De Bruyne’.
“He doesn’t score many free-kicks, but I think his crossing from wide is really good and I look up to him quite a lot,” Emile told the club’s website on De Bruyne in 2018.
Smith Rowe has also been compared to Ronaldo’s Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes, who plays for Manchester United, although Gary Neville recently stated he is more like Gunners legend Robert Pires.
Another name that’s cropped up in the Smith Rowe comparisons debate is Aston Villa skipper Jack Grealish.
The only difference is these four players have been compared to the youngster in terms of playing style, while Keown referenced Ronaldo as a benchmark as to how far he could develop in the upcoming years for Arsenal.