Former Arsenal player Adrian Clarke has suggested using Gunners outcast Emile Smith Rowe as a striker to utilise the star’s finishing ability.

Manager Mikel Arteta has seen his side struggle for goals this season, a major reason for the club’s poor form in recent months.

Arsenal have been linked with several strikers during the January transfer window. Ivan Toney, Victor Osimhen and even Karim Benzema have been reported as possible targets for the Gunners.

It comes with first-team strikers Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah struggling for consistency. The duo have scored a measly combined eight Premier League goals this term.

Arteta, who insists Arsenal will not sign a new centre-forward, has been offered Smith Rowe as an alternative striker. Ex-midfielder Clarke believes the three-time England international, who has played only 116 top-flight minutes this season, has the ability to play as a ‘withdrawn number nine’.

“I would say it’s left-side number eight, that’s his best position but I genuinely believe he could fill any of the front five spots,” Clarke, who also does punditry work for Arsenal, told the Handbrake Off Podcast.

“He’s played wide left and been excellent, he could cover Bukayo Saka, I’d like to see that actually, Saka comes off on 70 minutes, give Emile a chance in that position because he’d take up more half spaces and we can get Ben White on the outside.

“He can play on the wing, either number eight spot, and as a withdrawn number nine as well because he’s a finisher, his finishing is one of his best qualities and one of the best in the squad.”

Smith Rowe has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons, seeing him lose his regular spot in Arteta’s preferred starting 11. West Ham and Aston Villa are both widely reported to be interested in a loan move until the end of the season.

On Friday, Arteta deflected questions over Smith Rowe’s future but admitted that the 23-year-old needs more game time.

“I’m really happy with Emile,” the Spaniard said when asked if the academy graduate could leave this month. “He’s in the right trajectory. Now, he’s settled, he’s training really well and you know I’m not going to talk about individual situations.”

Arteta added: “Emile is Emile. We’re really happy to have him. He needs chances. What we have to do is give him minutes.”

Arsenal are unlikely to complete any major transfer business after several years of big spending. It leaves Arteta without a prolific striker in a tough battle for the Premier League title with Manchester City and Liverpool.