FORMER Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna has lauded Emile Smith Rowe as he declared the starlet has justified being given the iconic No10 shirt.

The 21-year-old midfielder was handed the vacant number when he penned a long-term contract until 2026 in the summer.

Smith Rowe has been one of the standout players for the Gunners this term, having chipped in with five goals and two assists in 13 games in all competitions.

The former RB Leipzig loanee's impressive displays earned him a call-up to the England national side, with the attacking midfielder featuring twice during the recent international break.

And he instantly repaid Gareth Southgate's faith by scoring on his full debut in the 10-0 World Cup qualifying win against San Marino on Monday night.

His remarkable performances have stunned ex-Manchester City defender Sagna, who has revealed he had doubts over the youngster.

Sagna has admitted he thought Smith Rowe might have been burdened by wearing the No10 shirt, which has been worn by the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Robin van Persie and Mesut Ozil.

Speaking to, he said: "He’s been amazing. He’s been impressing me a lot.


"Initially I wasn’t sure about Arsenal giving him the No10, I thought it was a bit early, but he’s mature for his age and shown he deserves it.

"Sometimes when you have players wearing the No10, they think they’ve made it already and I was worried about him having too much pressure, and how he would deal with it.

"Playing for Arsenal isn’t easy and with his responsibilities now for the national team, it could be a lot.

"But he’s been brilliant for the club, in all aspects of the game, he doesn’t hide on the pitch."

Smith Rowe and team-mate Bukayo Saka have been labelled as 'at least £100m' players by Chelsea legend Joe Cole.

Appearing on the All to Play For Podcast this week, Cole remarked: “Smith Rowe, he is holding Arsenal together.

“What is 21 or 22? He’s the man they look to, him and Saka.

“Young players are a commodity now. At Arsenal now, Saka and Smith Rowe, that must be at least £100 million worth of players.”

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