Bukayo Saka opens up on his playing future

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bukayo_saka_2020

Bukayo Saka says he’s enjoying playing for Arsenal at left-back, and that he’s learning a lot in that position, but insists he sees his future further forward.

The 18 year old has been impressive, particularly under new boss Mikel Arteta, and this season he has more assists than any other player (8), demonstrating how much he can produce in the final third.

And that ability is driving his desire to play as a forward, something he made clear when speaking to the press after the 4-0 win over Newcastle, during which he created a goal for Nicolas Pepe with a clever nutmeg.

I’m really enjoying my football under the new manager,” he said. “It’s not my natural position but he’s given me all the advice I need.

“I’ve got Granit behind, David supporting and speaking to me so it gives me licence to go and express myself in the final third and do what I can do.

“I learned a lot about how wingers in the Premier League play against defenders and how to position myself because in his system it’s different.

“I get to play much higher because the winger comes inside and I get to go.

“There’s a lot of space for me and it’s good for me. I’m playing sort of as a winger when we have the ball but without the ball I have to come back and work on my clearances, my heading and stuff I haven’t worked on my whole life.

“I feel like I’m doing OK right now.”

Insisting that his contractual situation is something he will leave to his agent and the club to sort out, Saka sees his future playing more in the final third.

“I feel like my dream was always to be a winger, to affect games, score goals and get assists,” he said.

“For now I’ll do the job the manager asks me to.”

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GoonerZA
GoonerZA
1 month ago

“I feel like my dream was always to be a winger, to affect games, score goals and get assists,” he said. – Well then you’re living the dream at left back already not so?

goonerrah
goonerrah
1 month ago
Reply to  GoonerZA

That’s like asking CR7 to play LB when he was young at ManUtd.

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
1 month ago

“I’ll leave the contract situation to my agents and the club”
Well then looks like we have a problem in our hands now.

Igor Stepanovs
Igor Stepanovs
1 month ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Sadly I agree. This language usually ends badly for Arsenal. Time to see what this contracting and commercial team – who the club continually brief are ‘impressive’ – are actually made of. Success isn’t just tying him down but also for letting it drag on.

Igor Stepanovs
Igor Stepanovs
1 month ago
Reply to  Igor Stepanovs

*NOT letting it drag on

HelderHughes
HelderHughes
1 month ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

I’m sure Saka is a humble lad who just wants to play football and this is probably as much his agents work as his own. But when Rambo insisted on playing number 10 and Theo insisted on playing CF, I just think “shut the fuck up, you’re playing for Arsenal FC, you’re lucky to be on the pitch and you’ll play where the club says you’ll play”. He’s 18 years old. He’s been great but we’ve taken a massive gamble on him. He’s been given the nod in front of Pepe and the other youngsters a lot this season and… Read more »

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage
1 month ago
Reply to  HelderHughes

This is a very naive view, spoken as a fan. That’s fine, but he’s a player. You say it’s a gamble but I’m sure he believed enough in his ability to have an impact. the whole “be grateful you’re playing for the mighty arsenal doesn’t really carry much weight anymore. I remember the same was said about Gnabry, and an almost “f*ck him, he can leave if he doesn’t want to play for the mighty arsenal” and now he’s definitely gone on to better. Ultimately the kids with the most talent don’t just have a “ill player wherever and be… Read more »

HelderHughes
HelderHughes
1 month ago
Reply to  Faisal Narrage

I’m not saying don’t be ambitious. Every player wants to play at the absolute top level, regardless of who they support or where they came from. I’m just saying at this stage, when he’s produced a few great performances – nearly all of them coming at LWB – that the better response there is that he’s just happy to be playing football. He’ll have an agent in his ear saying he’s had Barca on he phone or Madrid are interested. But so many players find those huge clubs to be black holes at his age. Then take someone like Raheem… Read more »

loose_cannon
loose_cannon
1 month ago
Reply to  HelderHughes

While I agree in general, Sterling is a poor example considering what he’s won and how he’s progressed at City!

The thing Saka will have to consider is whether he will get game time in his preferred position at one of those other clubs seeing as he can’t get it here, and unlike Sterling the answer is almost certainly no. I’m sure he’s aware of that, and that he would probably have to move down a level to move back up like Gnabry.

adrian
adrian
1 month ago
Reply to  HelderHughes

He did not say “I want to play only as Winger else I won’t play” but instead ““For now I’ll do the job the manager asks me to.”.
In future he wants to play as Winger and nothing is wrong in expressing your feeling.

kaius
kaius
1 month ago
Reply to  HelderHughes

“If Raheem Sterling had just spent his youth keeping his head down and playing for his club…” ugh. This is the kind of parochial nonsense that makes talented young players want to move clubs. Imagine talking that way about Raheem Sterling, who won the European Golden Boy award at 19 with Liverpool, and became a double title-winner with City before he turned 25. Honestly I hope no-one at Arsenal is talking like that to Saka. Young ambitious players don’t have time for “get your head down and be happy with six shillings a week playing out of position”. They want… Read more »

kaius
kaius
1 month ago
Reply to  kaius

Come to think of it, that comment is even dumber because Liverpool wasn’t originally Raheem Sterling’s club – he’s a London boy! His youth development happened at QPR.

karl
karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

For agents a move generates the most money and that is what drives most of them. We need to get in quick and make an offer that at least protects the asset. Let’s hope the Arteta effect nails him down.

PeteyB
PeteyB
1 month ago
Reply to  karl

Did I not see that since he is still on his first contract if he was to move it would be for compensation only? Did I misunderstand something?
If that’s the case would the agent get much? Or is there more to be made on the side since transfer fee would be tiny.

Richey Rich
Richey Rich
1 month ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

In fairness, this is probably exactly what his agent has told him to say. He’s going to try and get the best deal possible for him, so a bit of uncertainty thrown in, whilst his profile is high and without Saka ever having to say anything that might upset the fans hardly comes as a surprise, no?

Okey Jude
Okey Jude
1 month ago

Now I have more respect for Mislintat because rumour has it that he preferred promoting the likes of Saka as against signing Dennis Suarez last year. He surely has a good eye for talent. Too bad ego plays got in the way of him doing his job for us.

Yellow Ribbon
Yellow Ribbon
1 month ago

The one thing that I would give credit to Emery would be for promoting Saka. Thanks Emery.

Snc
Snc
1 month ago

The difference between Emery and Arteta… The former will just throw this talented kid into the deep end and hope it will work and the later actually coach and improve the player’s performance n skill.

Rich
Rich
1 month ago
Reply to  Snc

Or it could just be the way young players progress? Look at Sancho’s progression at Dortmund, played a handful of games In his first season, then played a 2/3rds of the games, finishing the season strongly, now in his third season, he’s the first player on the team sheet. Losing Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck from our books, and replacing them with proper wingers, has always going to be a process and not an event. And it’s not like Martinelli didn’t do well under Emery. Arteta’s also been lucky with the return of Bellerin, who’s our best defender, it’s the first time… Read more »

A Different George
A Different George
1 month ago
Reply to  Rich

“Emery has helped structure the wide positions within the squad.”

I am not sure what this supposed to mean. If you mean Emery created a system where the wide players knew what they were supposed to do, where the wide play was integrated into the way our centre-halves and midfielders were positioned and how they moved, where there was purpose and energy–well, if you mean that, you are blind.

Grymelock
Grymelock
1 month ago

It really is hard not to get carried away with things, but I am loving everything I am hearing from the club now. Arteta clearly has the footballing philosophy of Wenger, but with the acumen and desire to build and coach a defensive unit. Because, for all the great man’s esteemable qualities, coaching a defense sure as shit weren’t one of them.

Laca New Signing
Laca New Signing
1 month ago

Well in, lad. It’s your chance to get into the annals of history! There was a man called Ashley who had a dream like yours until he met his destiny connector in the name of Arsene Wenger. Go read about his exploits (before the lust for more glory got to him and rendered him a villain in the eyes of the very people that made him a hero)

GoonerBill
GoonerBill
1 month ago

LB or on the wing, this boy is a talent!

Cultured determination
Cultured determination
1 month ago

First of all, sign the contract.

Secondly, we should put in place a rule that talented youngsters need to sign a 4 year contract before they get opportunities in the league. Test them out in the cup competitions first.

Lastly, from the way he’s talking bout tactics seems like he’s someone i wont share my secrets with!

Da Boss
Da Boss
1 month ago

If you sign every youngster to a 4 year contract who ‘might’ play in the first team then the wage bill would be ridiculous. Saka will have been told by his agents not to say anything that might weaken their negotiation stance, so he probably thinks that he shouldn’t say ‘I support this club and love pulling on the shirt, why would I want to leave?’ – I genuinely can’t see him leaving for somewhere else when all his best mates play in the side and his family are local. May be in 5-10 years he will have different priorities… Read more »

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

If he doesn’t sign by August? Then we’ll be left with no choice but to invite bids. Which would be a disaster, I love him, he’s got everything. Every big club in the world will be watching, he’d have his pick, hopefully we can convince him this is the best place for him. Last pre-season we fixed our wide areas looking at the longer term, bringing in Pepe + Martinelli, and making room for Saka + Nelson, while bringing in Tierney as well. Arsene had us playing far too narrowly, and last season outside Kolasinac, we lacked anything resembling width.… Read more »

Gunnertron
Gunnertron
1 month ago

Such a talent!

Twatsloch
Twatsloch
1 month ago

Much as I have loved seeing him play, if he’s being awkward about a new contract then flog him for s princely sum. No one player is bigger than the team.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Twatsloch

Where does it say he is being awkward about a contract? Negotiations have just begun

Naked Cygan
Naked Cygan
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Martin, did you iron you socks?

North Bank Gooner
North Bank Gooner
1 month ago

He would be stupid to leave a team on the up at this stage, he should get his head down not get it turned. Lets see how he deals with the pressure of expectation, especially now opposition will be very aware of him.

He does look a proper player, that nutmeg………

Vonnie
Vonnie
1 month ago

How about he’s just a young man enjoying his football and letting his people sort out the contract. Why are so many going off on one about him being difficult and ungrateful? So much negativity again. I’m sure that he will stay and sign a new contract he’s enjoying himself here, he’s playing, he’s with his mates and he’s feeling the love from his coaches, his team mates and the fans. The media are shit stirring as usual, but there’s no reason to believe them.

Ashburton
Ashburton
1 month ago
Reply to  Vonnie

The most sane take on Saka’s contract “situation”. Talk about folks/ the media manufacturing negativity..

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

There is very little risk for Saka and I expect he will sign without too much fuss. As long as he plays well, the cards remain in his hands. If he signs a five year deal and continues playing this well then in 2-3 years he has to be given a pay rise or he transfers and he’s still maybe only 21. Nothing to lose

#define
#define
1 month ago

He looks to be a great talent and should be rewarded. Though I have an issue with his statement. In my opinion, he should be professing his loyalty to the club rather than saying that agents will sort it out. He was given an opportunity, and as a professional courtesy, he should be signing with us for a first contract (based on his excellent performance). While his talent has been on display, other characteristics such as durability, mental toughness etc. are still unknowns. For example, can he survive a whole season of a game every 3 days etc. After he… Read more »

Reality check
Reality check
1 month ago

This puts the ‘future LB’ debate to bed. His end product is too good to be wasted in defense. Our setup helps him aswell. He doesn’t have to sprint up and down the wing all game. Arteta’s placement of Xhaka is a masterstroke, even Wenger struggled with fullbacks being caught upfield when overloading attacks.

Runzac
Runzac
1 month ago

Love this kid and his potential. But let´s not talk about him playing at LB. Clearly he’s near the definition of a left midfielder with some defensive duties and freedom to go all the way up. Granit and Luiz are covering for him.

jabb
jabb
1 month ago

Now this guy is 18 and it’s the first time he is playing in the EPL and he’s doing so well, but people were against the statement that Maitland – Niles mentality wasn’t poor. After listening to the two interviews I see a clear contrast in thinking. and his mentality is what hindered him from even progressing onwards….a new RB came in and he’s not even guaranteed a starting midfield spot.

Best of John Lukic
Best of John Lukic
1 month ago

Bukayo is the biggest crush I’ve had on an Arsenal player since Cesc broke through. Come on lad, sign up!

OnlyBeingHonest
OnlyBeingHonest
1 month ago

Really top talent, hope he gets what he wants

Teryima Adi
Teryima Adi
1 month ago

Has a good head on those shoulders. The future is bright, kid.

Swedebasher
Swedebasher
1 month ago

While we don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes, it certainly smacks of his agent being the main obstacle.
Saka is very talented and Arsenal should try to keep him. It’s also in the player’s interest to stay and continue his development. Unlike Gnabry, he is getting the playing time that is so important for his development and a move isn’t guaranteed to even match his playing time at Arsenal.

Santori
Santori
1 month ago

Sign him a new deal. We don’t want to lose him like we did Gnabry (and then Ox when we really had to make either or put the name on the dotted line but failed to) On the subject of Gnabry, he mentioned in a recent interview how much he learnt from Robberry/Ribben when he joined Bayern Munchen. They told him they worked firstly on their weak points which was defending. As a co-relation with where Saka is playing presently, its actually a very good thing that he is having a stint having to work his defensive side of things.… Read more »