The end of the year provides time for reflection and when Bukayo Saka assesses what he has achieved in the past twelve months he will surely be very proud of himself.
From a schoolboy who was playing above his age group for the U18s, Saka has concluded 2018 by getting to the periphery of the first-team, to the extent that he has made two appearances in the Europa League and also made the bench in the Premier League for the first time as Arsenal beat Burnley today.
There is undoubtedly much more work for Saka to do as he looks to make the breakthrough at the club but for a 17 year old his progress has been excellent.
To put matters into perspective, Saka only signed scholarship terms in the summer and there are players in the same intake who are yet to establish themselves as regulars in the U18 side.
Saka commenced the campaign in the U18s but it quickly became apparent that he deserved to be performing on a bigger stage, with a promotion to the U23s coming early in the season.
Unsurprisingly, given the quality that he possesses, the winger seized his chance, and he has scored two goals and provided three assists in 11 league appearances for Freddie Ljungberg’s side in addition to catching the eye in the Checkatrade Trophy.
With his direct running and low crosses, Saka is capable of tormenting opposing defenders and he should only become even better over the next few years as he gets stronger and hopefully a little taller in addition to becoming more tactically aware.
Given Arsenal’s hectic schedule and the frequency with which the club’s players suffer injuries, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Saka was to make his Premier League debut in the near future, even if it was a runout towards the end of a game.
Saka will hope that 2019 will see him develop even further but he has already made fantastic strides in his development and has firmly established himself as one of Arsenal’s most exciting young prospects.