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Since announcing himself to the Premier League over the course of last season, Bukayo Saka has developed to be widely understood as one of the best young players in the Premier League. His consistently bright performances in what has been largely a dull Arsenal side have highlighted the talented teenager, who has now gained the respect of fans across the footballing world. Here’s a look at what Bukayo Saka has that some of the Premier League’s other youngsters do not…
Bukayo Saka has not only showed his ability to play in a host of different positions, he has also displayed high quality in each and every one of these roles. Remarkably, in just one and a half seasons, he has played FIVE different positions for Arsenal (left back, left wing-back, left winger, right winger and central midfielder). While it is evident he excels most from the right wing, Saka has proved himself at each of these positions- showing he will perform wherever he is needed for the club, without any complaints. At just 19 years of age, his versatility is one of the key attributes that sets him apart from his competitors. Other young sparks of a similar age are yet to refine themselves in a single position, let alone in a plethora of different roles.
What we football fans often forget with young players is how little time they have been playing at the top level. It is not uncommon for players, especially younger ones, to experience dips in form- however, we have simply not seen this with Bukayo Saka. Sometimes, I think we take Saka’s consistency for granted. Not only has he performed well in virtually every game he’s played in an Arsenal shirt, he’s arguably been our best and most reliable player all season. Even in a struggling side, and throughout the dark run earlier in our season, he was one of a very few players to step up and hold themselves accounted for. To sustain such high levels of output at his age is nothing short of exceptional- and long may it continue!
In many cases, the difference between a good and a world class player is their footballing mind. An individual could have all the physical attributes to make it to the very top, and yet without the ability to make the right decisions in almost every situation they hold their potential back a great deal. Often, a player’s decision-making develops over the years as they gain more experience, however at just 19 years old it seems Bukayo Saka already has an impeccable judgement on what is the right choice, dependant on the situation. The England international displays wisdom beyond his years- a wise head on young shoulders. He completes the correct run, pass or shot almost all the time, and this has helped him increase his goal tally significantly this season. His ability to stay composed, get his head up and play the right ball immediately is incredible, and has massively boosted Arsenal’s attacking force this season.
For such a young player, Bukayo Saka’s overall contribution to the game is vast. He is, alongside Emile Smith Rowe and Alex Lacazette, involved in the majority of attacking moves for the Gunners across a regular 90′. Not only does he contribute goals and register assists, but he is also key to our build up play. His ability to play short balls and link up with his teammates, or even longer passes to shift the play show just well-rounded the youngster is. Off the ball, Saka can often be seen to be making runs and playing fluidly across the front line, causing havoc for opposition defences. Having both the capability to cut inside or go out wide add an element of unpredictability to the 19-year-old’s play. While goal contributions are key for a player in the front three, Bukayo Saka has so much more than that in his locker- and as such is not only a player that can contribute to a team’s success, but a player that an entire team can be built around.
Why, you may ask, does this make him the best young player in the Premier League right now? My thesis is pretty simple. While the English top flight is stacked full of bright talents (the likes of Foden, Odoi, our very own Martinelli, Greenwood, Neto and more) I don’t think there is a single young player that has all the capabilities that are possessed by Bukayo Saka. He is, for me, the most well-rounded, and therefore the best, youngster in England right now. Whilst his counterparts will continue to develop their weaker attributes and go on to become world class players, Bukayo Saka currently has the best foundation upon which to build his game and refine his attributes in the coming months and years. That is why I believe Bukayo Saka is the best young player in the Premier League, as of now.