Having stolen the show with a goal and assist in a 3-1 victory over Southampton, Bukayo Saka has once again been the talk of the footballing world. Often praise of the young man comes in the suggestion that he is a great ‘talent’ or ‘prospect’, but perhaps it is time to change the way Saka is discussed. It is time to acknowledge that Saka may already be not just Arsenal‘s best player, but one of the best young players in the world.
Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s Future
Saka Has Already Cemented His Place in the Team
If you ask an Arsenal fan to name their first-choice starting line-up, you can bet on at least one name being unanimous. Bukayo Saka is a non-negotiable fixture in the Arsenal team. This level of fan reverence towards such a young player has not been seen for quite some time. In fact, you may have to go back to the breakthrough of Jack Wilshere to find a young player who has created such a buzz at Arsenal.
It is often here that many conversations about Saka flatlines. The conversation ends with the focus being on the future, this is a mistake. Instead, the conversation should be looking at the here and now. Saka has already shown levels of consistency and talent that are highly irregular for someone so young.
For example, a common criticism given to young players is that they are bright but need to focus their talent into a consistent end product. Since moving onto the right-wing, Saka has scored four goals in seven appearances, as well as chipping in with three assists.
Perhaps even to reduce Saka’s performances to goals and assists would still underplay quite how good he has been for Arsenal. It would not be an exaggeration to say that often the attack flows through him. Quite simply, he is indispensable.
A Footballing Genius
By far the most mind-blowing aspect of Saka’s game is his versatility. This is not versatility in the nature of a 30-year-old who can cover a few positions, but of a prodigious talent. Whether it be left-back, left wing-back, left-wing, right-wing, or even central midfield, Saka has delivered the goods.
Sometimes, when a young player arrives onto the scene, the argument is made that they have not yet been able to find their position. Saka makes a mockery of this notion. Wherever he is on the pitch, Saka will leave his mark on the game.
The explanation behind this is that Saka may just be a genius. The way Saka plays is cerebral as opposed to surprised, calculated as opposed to reactive. When Saka finishes or ties together an attack, you get the feeling that he may have been planning it all along. The best way to describe it is that Saka always looks like he has all the time he needs on the ball, the sign of a true great.
It should not be forgotten that this is the very young man who at a time when his football career was dragging him one way, still managed to get four A*s and three As in his GCSEs. Saka may well be as studious on the pitch as he is off of it.
Signs of International Success for Bukayo Saka
One final point to be made is to hark back to Bukayo Saka’s performances for England. Sometimes when a young player gets an international call-up, they find themselves drowned out in the spectacle and noise. They are suddenly put into an unfamiliar set-up, away from the tactics that they have been thriving under. For Saka, this was not the case.
As if to flex his ability to perform wherever, Saka was deployed as a left wing-back for England. Across a few performances, he garnered widespread praise for his showings. Once again, the story was of quite how easy Saka made it all look.
Of course, football is a game that often extends beyond what happens on the pitch, and it is here that Arsenal fans can find further solace. Saka quickly made a good impression on Gareth Southgate, as well as forming a fast friendship with Jack Grealish.
Bukayo Saka has the world at his feet, and there’s nothing to say that this will change any time soon.