Bukayo Saka has been a revelation for Arsenal this season. During the early part of the season where there was a lot of “doom and gloom” for Arsenal fans, Saka always seemed like a diamond in the rough. His speed and trickery have excited fans and have worried opposition players every game. Arteta has spoken very highly of the young lad from London during their short time working together.
“He’s learning that you are able to adapt and that you are able to sacrifice for the team, and [you learn that you] don’t use excuses,”Mikel Arteta (Dec 31. 2019)
Unlike youngsters like Marcus Rashford, there also appears to be less pressure on Saka. He’s performed extremely well this season, but he’s not needed to be the main source of goals or assists. He appears to be focused on his own development and doing his part for the team.
That said, it is important for his development that he continues to play a part in the team. There might be a temptation now with a lot of players returning from injury to keep Saka on the bench and rely more heavily on experience. Arteta must keep giving Saka chances in the first team to help him realise his potential.
It’s important to strike a balance with Saka. With Aubameyang being the first choice on the inside left, Saka has often played at left back to cover for the injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney. Ultimately, playing in different positions can help a player develop an understanding he wouldn’t otherwise have. During the recent 3-2 loss against Brentford, Saka played in a central midfield role and reports have suggested this may be a role that Arteta views as a part of Saka’s long term future.
It’s important that Arteta makes this decision soon. Too many players at Arsenal have suffered from a lack of a clear pathway into a secure position. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey all played in many positions for Arsenal and all of them could’ve had brighter careers for the club. Hopefully with a clear plan in mind for Saka, he can realise his potential with Arsenal.
Photo: cfcunofficial (2020)