Mikel Arteta has praised Bukayo Saka for the “rare” ability he has shown to perform at such a high level on such a consistent basis but says the Arsenal winger has “a lot” of room for improvement.
Saka has been a key member of the Arsenal side that sits eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, scoring 12 goals and claiming 10 assists in 28 games.
Only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have more goals and assists combined than Saka in the top flight this season, while he has also shone on the international stage with England, starring at the World Cup and scoring a brilliant goal in the 2-0 win over Ukraine on Sunday.
Arteta has started Saka in every one of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures this season, and talks are ongoing over a new deal to replace the contract which expires in 2024.
When asked if there was further improvement to come from the 21-year-old, the Gunners manager said: “Yes.
“First of all, I think you have to recognise what he’s been doing. The consistency he’s shown at his age and at this level is something rare to see. He’s taken it with normality.
“If you ask me if he has room for improvement, I would say: ‘Yes – a lot.’ He’s never satisfied, he always wants more and he can still do a lot of things better and more efficiently.
“But we are really pleased to have him.”
Toure tells Arsenal: Keep Saka for 10 years
Kolo Toure, the former Arsenal defender who was part of the Invincibles – the last Gunners side to lift the Premier League title, back in 2004 – says his old club should convince Saka to remain at the Emirates for the next decade.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Toure said: “First advice to Arsenal is to make sure Bukayo Saka is signed for 10 years.
“Arsenal made a few mistakes in my opinion when they had homegrown players or key players that really love the club and they let them go.
“You have to keep those players because these are the players that are going to lead the team for you. These are the players you can rely on.”
Merson: Saka can go as far as he wants
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
Saka is a ‘big moment’ player and he produces at crucial times in big football matches.
He’s not the player that gets a hat-trick against a side bottom of the league or he’s not grabbing the seventh goal in a 7-0 win. At Arsenal he’s getting the first goal, the equaliser or the winner. He’s getting assists at crucial moments.
He’s a ‘big occasion’ player and there are not a lot of them around.
There are players that will do a lot of things in games but they won’t be in the most important part of the game. Saka does do that, however, on a weekly basis. He’s been turning it on for Arsenal all season with the goals and assists he’s got.
I can’t talk highly enough of the lad. He’s improved immensely and I don’t mean improved because he now goes past four or five players, but it’s his end product.
He’s got a great calmness about him. He’s only 21, there’s plenty more to come from him. He won’t play his best football until he’s 26, 27 or 28.
The problem he will find is, because of the position he plays, he will find things harder at some stage. As he becomes more well known, teams will put him on the radar a lot more. Teams will look to stop the ball getting to him and they will also double up on him very quickly.
He will have to change his game again to combat that but he has the temperament to handle that.
But he just loves football. All he wants is to play football and he plays the game with a smile on his face. He has all the ingredients to go as far as he wants in the game.