Bukayo Saka: Arsenal’s model student has a bright future
Jamie Carragher marvelled in hiscomposure and caliber on the chunk. The notoriously hard-to-please Roy Keane talked up hisbeautiful performance. Even his approval was lent by Cesc Fabregas. Saka is a player, he composed Twitter. Eighteen years old and showing good maturity.
Arsenal and Manchester Uniteds 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last month was yet another reminder of how far the 2 clubs have dropped since the days of the epic competition, a gruesome affair. For Bukayo Saka, however, it provided a platform to enhance a fast growing reputation.
At 25 days old, and making only his seventh mature appearance for Arsenal and 18 years, Saka became the youngest player to begin a Premier League game between the two sides. And at a ground where players far older than him have awakened, there was proof of their inexperience.
In fact, Sakas starting spot now looks more secure than that of those #72m Nicolas Pepe. Unai Emery described Saka as ansignificant player after the Manchester United game and began him again in the 1-0 win over Bournemouth. The academy graduate will likely be confident of maintaining his position from Sheffield United on Monday Night Football.
And why shouldnt he be?
Saka provided the first glimpses of his raw talent last year – most notably with his man-of-the-match showing against Qarabag in the Europa League – however, much like one of his own driving runs down Arsenals left flankhis advancement has gained momentum from the new effort.
The winger scored his first senior goal in the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt a month, finding the bottom corner with a curling end from 25 metres out, and that there have also been three aids, including the intelligent through-ball for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangs equaliser at Old Trafford.
It is that ability which has propelled Saka moving him above fellow academy graduates Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock at the pecking order of Emery, for Arsenal fans is that hes demonstrating the personality 47, but what is just as reassuring. Saka is mature and confident about the pitch and humble off it.
Respectful, very hard-working and always ready to understand, is how team captain Granit Xhaka explained him lately. They are traits not only to those operating in Arsenals academy, which he joined at the age of eight, but also the employees at Greenford High School in Ealing, west London, in which he had been a pupil from the age of 11 to 16.
He was a role model of a student, assistant head teacher Mark Harvey, who taught Saka PE, informs Sky Sports. A beautiful and respectful lad with a really wonderful attitude. He only carried himself in such a great way.
Sometimes you can teach students who are extremely good at football, but if you get them on a pitchthey just hog the ball whenever they wish to flaunt with it. Bukayo wasnt that type of man. If anything, he played how good he had been, that was really good to see.
Saka was training frequently with Arsenal at the time he started at Greenford, which makes the long trip from his family home in Ealing into the club north-east London academy several times per week, however its a nod to his attitude – and ability – that he never permitted his studies to endure even if his football commitments demanded time out of college.
Hed his GCSEs together until he left and he did very, very nicely, says Harvey. All of his grades had been high, particularly in English and Maths. In addition, he did business studies, hed RE, he did sciences. He did well through the boardwhich will be amazing considering the quantity of time he had from school.
We tried to work with Arsenal as far as we possibly could. We understood he was along with the grades he had been getting, so we were about allocating him time out, flexible. His family were really supportive and always ensured hed do his homework, which was the important thing.
Saka threw himself with the same devotion into his football, rising through the youth ranks of Arsenal and breaking the U23s of Freddie Ljungberg after his 17th birthday. At the same time, he was faring similarly nicely in the junior sides of England, impressing coaching team together with the way he adopted an unknown position.
He captured the eye in precisely exactly the exact same way he does now, Neil Dewsnip, Englands former U18s trainer, informs Sky Sports. He was really fast, powerful and may hurt defences, if that was an out-and-out left winger or as a left-back, which will be where he played for us at the beginning of last year.
He managed that positional change quite well. He is very competent at one-v-one defending, so defensively he didnt get discovered, and he was really good at learning. He had been open-minded to all else along with my assistant told him. He wasnt in any manner obstructive to anything that any member of staff stated.
Saka has proven the identical willingness to carry on Emerys instructions this season, his variation aided by his mentor Ljungbergs presence about the coaching staff, and there has also been signs of his knowledge. Saka is currently averaging tackles per 90 minutes.
It seems he has even made an impression on Gareth Southgate, who name-dropped Saka when talking the attacking alternatives of England prior to the European Qualifier from Czech Republic 10 days past. A into the side could come as small surprise into Dewsnip.
He understands what hes about and he is really inspired, he states. I found him to be quiet, but maybe not in a weak manner. He had opinions and I discovered that he spoke intelligently from a football perspective, when he had the flooring in the area. He was capable of making observations about the competitions strengths and flaws.
Saka definitely succeeded in running at Ashley Young at each opportunity exploiting the weaknesses of Manchester United at Old Trafford and pouncing from Axel Tuanzebe to get the equaliser of Arsenal. The challenge now is to set himself for the long-term.
At first, young players make that luxury of competitions not really knowing much about them, states Dewsnip. Bukayo is quick, hes strong, he could make , he can score, he could cross. But everyone knows that now. He will have to find other ways of influencing the sport also.
It is fortunate that Saka comes with an established appetite for self-improvement – and that there seems little prospect of his increased profile going to his mind. At Greenford High Schoolwhere the staff refer to him asour boy and where his signed England U19s shirt hangs framed on the wall at a reception place, he remains a regular guest.
Our previous head teacher was a big Chelsea fan, however, he had a really nice relationship with Bukayo and Bukayo actually came to his leaving do a year with his dad, says Harvey. He had a few pictures taken and spoke to some of our pupils. He has friends in sixth-form here and that he comes into school and says hello to people .
The fact that Saka has friends is a reminder that this is only the start for him. He does not even turn 19 . But all of the ingredients are there for a future that is bright. Saka is making a significant impression, from Ealing to Old Trafford.
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