Bukayo Saka: Arsenal’s model student has a bright future

Jamie Carragher marvelled at his”composure and quality” on the ball. The famously hard-to-please Roy Keane talked up his”beautiful” performance. Even his acceptance was lent by Cesc Fabregas. “Saka is a participant,” he wrote on Twitter. “Eighteen years old and showing good maturity”
Arsenal and Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last month was a gruesome affair, another reminder of how far the 2 clubs have dropped since the times of the epic competition. To get Bukayo Saka, however, it also provided a platform to enhance a reputation.
At 25 days old, and making his seventh appearance for Arsenal and 18 decades, 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’ve awakened, there was slight proof of his inexperience.
In fact, Saka’s starting spot now appears more stable than that of those #72m Nicolas Pepe. Unai Emery described Saka as an”significant player” after the Manchester United game and started him in the 1-0 win over Bournemouth. The academy graduate will likely be confident of maintaining his position.
And why should not he be?
Saka provided the first glimpses of his raw skills last season – most especially with his man-of-the-match revealing against Qarabag in the Europa League – however, much like one of his own driving runs Arsenal’s left flankhis progress has gained momentum in the new effort.
The winger scored his first senior goal in the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt last month, finding the bottom corner using a curling end from 25 metres out, and there have also been three aids, for instance, smart through-ball for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s equaliser at Old Trafford.
It is that ability that has propelled Saka into the spotlight, so moving him graduates Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson in the pecking order of Emery, but what’s just as encouraging for Arsenal fans is that he’s demonstrating the character that is ideal too. Saka humble off it and is mature and confident on the pitch.
“Respectful, very hard-working and always eager to understand,” is how club captain Granit Xhaka explained him recently. They are traits recognisable not only to people operating in Arsenal’s academy, which he joined at the age of eight, but in addition the employees at Greenford High School in Ealing, west London, in which he had been a student from age 11 to 16.
“He had been a role model of a student,” assistant head teacher Mark Harvey, who taught Saka PE, informs Sky Sports. “A beautiful and respectful lad having a very wonderful attitude. He only carried himself in a great way.
“Occasionally you can teach pupils that are exceptionally good in soccer, but if you put them on a pitchthey just hog the ball whenever they wish to show off onto it. Bukayo wasn’t that type of man. If anything, he also played down how good he was, that was really great to watch.”
Saka was training regularly with Arsenal from the time he started at Greenford, which makes the long trip from his family house in Ealing to the club’s north-east London academy many times each week, however it is a nod to his attitude – and ability – that he never permitted his studies to suffer even if his football commitments demanded time out of college.
“He did his GCSEs together before he left and he did very, very nicely,” says Harvey. “Each of his grades had been also high, especially in English and Maths. He failed business studies, he’d RE, he’d sciences that are joint. He simply did well through the boardwhich is amazing considering the quantity of time he had from college with his soccer.
“We attempted to work with Arsenal as much as we possibly could. We knew the grades he got and he had been, so we had been flexible about allocating him time out. His loved ones were really supportive and always ensured he’d do his assignments, which for us was the vital thing.”
Saka threw himself with the exact identical dedication, breaking the U23s of Freddie Ljungberg soon after his 17th birthday and increasing through the youth ranks of Arsenal. At exactly the same time, he fared similarly well in the junior sides of England, impressing training team with the manner in which he and an unknown position embraced.
“He also caught the eye in precisely the same manner he does now,” Neil Dewsnip, England’s former U18s trainer, tells Sky Sports. “He was very fast, powerful and could hurt defences, if that was an out-and-out left winger or really 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. He’s very competent at therefore defensively he did get discovered, and that he had been very good at learning. He had been amenable to whatever else along with my assistant told him. He was not in any manner obstructive to anything that any member of staff said.”
Saka has demonstrated the willingness to take on Emery’s instructions this year, his variation aided by the existence of his own mentor Ljungberg about the coaching staff that was first-team, and there has also been evidence of his awareness. Saka is currently averaging tackles per 90 minutes than any Arsenal player in the Premier League.
It appears he has even made an impression on Gareth Southgate, that name-dropped Saka when discussing the attacking options of England before the European Qualifier against Czech Republic 10 weeks ago. A to the side would come as little surprise.
“He knows what he’s about and he’s very motivated,” he states. “I found him to be quiet, but maybe perhaps not in a poor way. He had opinions and I discovered that he spoke very from a football point of view, when he had the flooring in the area. He was more than capable of making observations about the competition’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Saka surely succeeded in operating at Ashley Young at every chance, harnessing the weaknesses of Manchester United at Old Trafford and pouncing from Axel Tuanzebe to get the equaliser of Arsenal. The challenge today is to set himself to the long-term.
“At first, young gamers get that luxury of competitions not really knowing much about these,” states Dewsnip. “Bukayo is quick, he is strong, he will createhe can score, he can cross. But everyone knows that now. He might have to find different ways of influencing the match as well.”
It’s fortunate, then, that Saka has an established appetite for self – so there appears little prospect of his profile moving to his mind. At Greenford High Schoolwhere the staff refer to him as”our boy” and in which his authorized England U19s shirt hangs framed on the wall in a reception place, ” he remains a regular visitor.
“Our previous head teacher was a big Chelsea fan, however, he had a very nice relationship with Bukayo and Bukayo really came back to his leaving do last year with his dad,” says Harvey. “He had some pictures taken and talked to some of our pupils. He still has friends in sixth-form here and that he frequently comes into school and says hello to people ”
The fact that Saka has friends is a reminder that this is only the beginning for him. He does not even turn 19 . But all the ingredients are there for a bright future. From Ealing to Old Trafford, Saka is making a huge impression.
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