The London Football Awards’ young player of the year. The Premier League’s player of the month for March. Man of the match for England against Ukraine.
Four years and four months after making his debut for Arsenal, Bukayo Saka has become a global star thanks to consistently impressive performances for club and country.
It feels like the sky’s the limit for the 21-year-old, especially as he so far seems immune to the hype that so often takes a toll on fledgling careers.
“He does it in a really natural way,” said Mikel Arteta when asked how Saka copes with all the plaudits.
“And he also had moments when it was in the opposite way. He’s going to have to deal with that, with the expectations of the media, with attention on the pitch.
“When you want to fulfil a role like the one he has at the moment, you need to be capable of doing that. We have to help him. So don’t read too much, don’t listen too much, just focus on what you have to do every day.
Arteta also joked that Arsenal’s staff won’t have a problem taking the youngster down a notch in the unlikely event he can’t keep his feet on the ground.
“We don’t know if he is aware of that [the attention]. We don’t know how much he reads, how much we allow him to read and listen. And we always have a stick ready, don’t worry.
“He’s so humble, he’s very intelligent. He knows where this is coming from and he knows it’s like a cloud, here one moment and gone tomorrow.
“So keep moving in the right direction, make sure that the sun hits you in the right moment and have the right energy. Keep your eyes open and be alert, because this industry is very tough.”
Saka’s challenge between now and the end of the season is maintaining the level he’s reached in recent months. His 22 goal involvements in 28 Premier League appearances has already eclipsed his numbers for last season and their are 10 games still to go.
Arteta thinks a change in mindset has driven that improvement.
“It’s about his mentality, I think there’s been a real shift there and how much he wants it and what he does every single day, and then obviously the maturity and acknowledgement about what to do in every situation,” said the Spaniard.
“His decision-making is getting better and better and he is making the right decisions more often, and as well because he has very good teammates here at Arsenal and with the national team and that’s a very necessary thing to have, especially when you play in attacking positions.
He added: “There are a lot of things that he is doing to maintain that consistency. His habits every single day, how he conducts himself and allows people to give him advice in the right moments, how he pushes himself and the people he has around him – they are all very important factors for someone to be that consistent every day.”