Chelsea youngster and Swansea City loanee Conor Gallagher says Emile Smith Rowe is one of the best players he’s ever come up against.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Reece James of Chelsea tackles Emile Smith-Rowe of Arsenal during the FA Youth Cup Final first leg match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on April 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Reece James tackles Emile Smith-Rowe during the FA Youth Cup Final on April 27, 2018. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Speaking to the Swansea City website, Gallagher named Smith Rowe as one of his toughest opponents. The 20-year-old is starting to make his breakthrough in senior football this season, making 26 appearances for Charlton before joining Swansea in January.

Gallagher’s 36 total Championship appearances have given him plenty of chances to play against senior pros. Yet a youth game against Arsenal and Smith Rowe still sticks out in his memory.

“The best player I’ve ever played against is another really tough question,” Gallagher admitted.

“In terms of reputation, it would be Wayne Rooney. But I remember in the FA Youth Cup u18s, Emile Smith Rowe gave me a runaround. So that’s a game that sticks out to me.”

It’s not exactly a surprise to hear. Smith Rowe was Arsenal’s best player by a margin in the Youth Cup final, and the only thing keeping them competitive.

The Gunners were winning 1-0 – thanks to a goal Smith Rowe set up – when the midfielder came off in the 62nd minute. The coach was clearly thinking about the final second leg, just a few days later.

However, removing his team’s best player was a huge gamble and totally backfired. Arsenal lost their way without Smith Rowe and ended up 3-1 losers. The young playmaker, currently on loan at Huddersfield, clearly made an impression all the same.