Bukayo Saka: Arsenal’s model student has a bright future
Jamie Carragher marvelled at hiscomposure and caliber on the ball. The famously hard-to-please Roy Keane spoke up hislovely performance. Even Cesc Fabregas lent his approval. Saka is a participant, he wrote on Twitter. Eighteen years old and showing great maturity
Arsenal and Manchester Uniteds 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last month was a gruesome affair. To get Bukayo Saka, however, it provided a platform to further enhance a reputation.
At 18 years and 25 days , and making his seventh senior appearance for Arsenal, Saka became the youngest player to start a Premier League game between the two sides. And in a ground where players much older than him have awakened, there was little proof of their inexperience.
Actually, Sakas starting place looks more protected than that of the #72m Nicolas Pepe. Unai Emery described Saka within animportant player following the Manchester United game and started him again in the 1-0 win over Bournemouth. The academy graduate will be confident of maintaining his place.
And why shouldnt he be?
Saka provided the first glimpses of his raw skills last year – most especially with his man-of-the-match revealing against Qarabag from the Europa League – however, similar to one of his own driving runs down Arsenals left flank, his advancement has gained momentum in the new campaign.
The winger scored his first senior goal in the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt a month, finding the bottom corner with a curling finish from 25 yards out, and that there have also been three assists, for instance, smart through-ball for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangs equaliser in Old Trafford.
It is that ability which has propelled Saka into the spotlight, moving him graduates Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson in Emery order, but whats just as reassuring for Arsenal fans is that he is demonstrating the personality that is right too. Saka is mature and confident and humble it off.
Respectful, very hard-working and always ready to learn, is the way team captain Granit Xhaka described him lately. They are traits not just to people operating in Arsenals academy, which he joined at the age of eight, but in addition the staff at Greenford High School in Ealing, west London, in which he was a pupil from age 11 to 16.
He had been a role model of a student, assistant head instructor Mark Harvey, who taught Saka PE, tells Sky Sports. A beautiful and respectful lad with a really wonderful attitude. He simply taken himself in a way that was nice.
Occasionally you may instruct pupils who are exceptionally good at soccer, but when you put them onto a pitch, they just hog the ball whenever they wish to show off with it. Bukayo wasnt that kind of man. If anything, he also played down how great he had been, which was really wonderful to watch.
Saka was training frequently with Arsenal at the time he began in Greenford, which makes the long trip from his family house in Ealing into the clubs north-east London academy several times each week, however its a testament to his attitude – and aptitude – that he never permitted his studies to endure even if his football commitments required time out of college.
He did his GCSEs with us until he left and that he did very, very well, says Harvey. Each of his grades were also high, particularly in English and Maths. In addition, he failed business studies, he did RE, he did sciences that are joint. He simply did really well across the board, which is amazing considering the quantity of time he had from college.
We tried to work with Arsenal as much as possible. We knew the ranges he was becoming along with how studious he was, so that we were elastic about persuading him out time. His family were really supportive and always ensured hed do his assignments, which for us was the key thing.
Saka threw himself with the same devotion into his football, increasing through the youth positions of Arsenal and breaking into Freddie Ljungbergs U23s after his 17th birthday. At precisely the identical time, he was faring similarly nicely in Englands junior sides, impressing training staff with the manner in which he and an unfamiliar position embraced.
He also caught the attention in the same way he does now, Neil Dewsnip, Englands former U18s trainer, tells Sky Sports. He was very quick, strong and might hurt defences, if that was an out-and-out left winger or as a left-back, that is where he played for us at the beginning of this past year.
He handled that positional change quite well. Hes very competent at one-v-one defending, therefore defensively he did get found out, and that he had been really good at learning. He had been open minded to what else along with my assistant told him. He wasnt in any way obstructive to whatever which any member of staff stated.
Saka has shown the identical willingness to carry on the directions of Emery this year, his variation aided by his mentor Ljungbergs existence about the first-team coaching team, and there has also been signs of his defensive consciousness. Saka is currently averaging more tackles per 90 minutes.
It seems he has made a comment on Gareth Southgate, that name-dropped Saka when discussing the attacking options of England prior to the Qualifier against Czech Republic. A upcoming call-up to the senior side could come as small surprise.
He knows what he is about and hes really inspired, he says. I discovered him to be silent, but perhaps not in a helpless manner. He had opinions and when he had the floor at the dressing area, I discovered that he spoke very intelligently from a football viewpoint. He was more than capable of making observations about the competitions strengths and weaknesses.
Saka succeeded in pouncing from Axel Tuanzebe to get the equaliser of Arsenal, running Ashley Young at each opportunity and harnessing the flaws of Manchester United at Old Trafford. The challenge is to set himself.
Initially, young gamers make that luxury of competitions not really knowing much about these, states Dewsnip. Bukayo is fast, he is powerful, he will make , he can score, he could cross. But everyone knows that now. He will need to find other ways of influencing the sport too.
Its fortunate, then, that Saka has an established appetite for self-improvement – and that there appears little prospect of his profile going to his mind. In Greenford High Schoolwhere the staff proudly refer to him asour boy and wherever his authorized England U19s shirt hangs framed on the wall at a reception place, he remains a regular guest.
Our old head teacher was a big Chelsea fan, but he had a really great relationship with Bukayo and Bukayo really came back to his leaving do a year with his father, says Harvey. He had some pictures taken and talked to a couple of our pupils. He still has friends in sixth-form here and he comes into school and says hello to us
The fact that Saka has buddies is a reminder that this is only the beginning for him. 19 doesnt even turn . But the ingredients are there for a glowing future. From Ealing to Old Trafford, Saka is making a big impression.
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