Newcastle United 'lead race' for Arsenal fan-favourite but face competition from Aston Villa

Eddie Howe's side are expected to strengthen in the summer and could turn to a Premier League rival.

Newcastle United are 'leading the race' to sign Arsenal outcast Emile Smith Rowe with the midfielder set to make a decision on his future this summer, according to reports.

Smith Rowe has been pushed to the fringes of Mikel Arteta's side, enjoying just three starts across all competitions this season. The 23-year-old has suffered with injury issues but been fit in recent weeks and still found minutes hard to come by amid intense competition.

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The former fan-favourite at the Emirates is competing for a place with captain Martin Odegaard and summer signing Kai Havertz, both of whom have been preferred all season. Football Insider reports that Arsenal could decide to sell their academy graduate and Newcastle are at the front of the queue for his signature.

The Magpies could make an official approach for Smith Rowe ahead of next season, should they get the feeling he could be made available for permanent transfer. West Ham are also keen, having expressed interest in a loan move last month, while Aston Villa are also in the race.

Eddie Howe looks set to need midfield reinforcements in the summer amid growing uncertainty over the future of Joelinton. The Brazilian will enter the final 12 months of his contract soon and talks over a new deal have stalled, meaning a sale could be on the cards.

There is also speculation surrounding the future of Bruno Guimaraes, who remains on the radar of Paris Saint-Germain and other top European clubs. Newcastle may be forced to cash in on one of their top talents for profitability and sustainability reasons.

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There is no suggestion as to how much a move for Smith Rowe could cost but the young midfielder is contracted until 206 at the Emirates. meaning Arsenal will have no obligation to sell. They could be willing to lower their demands, however, given the midfielder is an academy graduate and so would represent pure profit on the books.