Bukayo Saka has broken onto the scene this season and has made a huge positive impact in Arsenal’s first-team no matter where he’s playing on the pitch.
His versatility at such a young age has not gone unnoticed, and his fine season saw him earn a new contract at the club.
His recent performances have been praised by pundits as well, notably with an assist in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City, and a goal in their 2-0 win away at Wolves.
As a whole, there’s little information about the Arsenal youngster online, but here’s 10 facts you may not have known about the boy wonder.
Saka is from Nigerian descent
Both of his parents are Nigerian and migrated to London for work. Both of Saka’s parents declared their support for Arsenal, and was part of the reason they moved to the capital. Saka has been a lifelong Arsenal fan, too.
Bukayo is also a unisex name meaning “adds to happiness”, originating from the Yoruba tribe located in southern Nigeria.
Freddie Ljungberg was the youngster’s idol growing up
Whilst other academy players may look up to other names from Arsenal’s past, Saka idolised the Swedish midfielder growing up. On top of this, the two crossed paths during Saka’s development.
The former Arsenal midfielder helped develop Saka in his role as a youth coach in Arsenal’s Hale End Academy. Part of the U15s setup, Ljungberg urged the youngster to “work hard and stay humble” in order to progress up the ranks.
Debut at 17 against Vorskla Poltava
Arsenal fans may vaguely remember playing a small team from Ukraine in the Europa League back in 2018, but might not remember the substitutions made in that game. Saka was one of them, making his senior-team debut for the Gunners. In the 68th minute, he replaced ex-Gunner Aaron Ramsey to make his first appearance.
First senior start against FK Qarabag
Again, there may be a slight recollection from Arsenal supporters of a Thursday night against a team from Azerbaijan. But in the last game of the group stage in 2018, Saka started for the first time for the Gunners in a 1-0 win for the team in red.
Everyone at Arsenal loves the starlet
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez branded him “top-class” when speaking to talkSPORT last month. Furthermore, Martinez stated: “Saka (and Martinelli) are the future stars, not just for Arsenal, but in the Premier League and in the world.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal legend Ian Wright voiced his “delight” for Saka when he scored his first Premier League goal against Wolves earlier this month.
On top of this, ex-Arsenal striker Robin van Persie hailed the youngster as “world-class”. Back in February, the Dutchman appeared as a pundit for BT Sport’s Europa League coverage of the tie between Arsenal & Olympiacos.
He also compared the wonderkid’s ability to the likes of Ryan Giggs & Dennis Bergkamp, as the young Englishman provided the assist for Lacazette’s winner.
“This is very good, world-class. He makes it look easy but this pass, like I said, only the great players can give those passes.”
Mikel Arteta has labelled him a “coach’s dream”
It isn’t just the players that love the youngster, either – so does his boss.
The Spaniard has coached for over four years now, previously under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, before taking his first managerial job at Arsenal. It’s an established background for Arteta, as he has developed his skills at the highest level of the game.
Arteta has praised Saka, saying his attitude is “spot-on”, and that: “He’s learning that you are able to adapt and that you are able to sacrifice for the team…”
Senior debut goal came in one of his best performances yet
Away on a Thursday night in Frankurt, Bukayo Saka scored a sensational debut goal from outside the area. In the 3-0 away win, Saka also provided both the other two goals. Of course, he got man of the match when he displayed what he is capable of.
He has signed a long-term contract to stay in north London
At the start of July, Saka signed a new long-term deal with Arsenal (which you fans probably already knew). It is reported that it is a four-year-contract, extending his stay in north London until 2024 at the earliest.
This also ended speculation of any transfer rumours that were dotted about the media at the time, with reports Liverpool were one of many looking to snap up the youngster.
A delighted Arteta said at the signing: “I am excited to continue working with him to develop him further, and for him to help us achieve our goals.”
His new contract is reportedly worth £30k-a-week
Saka’s previous deal was worth £3k-a-week, and reports are suggesting he’s about to earn much more from here. Not too bad for the age of 18!
Now holds a teenage record for the Gunners
Saka has had a record-breaking season for Arsenal, as he now holds the most assists in a season from a teenager. The previous record was held by Cesc Fabregas – in the 2006/07 season, the Spaniard made 10 assists in all competitions.
Saka has hit 11 assists (five in the Premier League) for the season, with one game left to be played. To say Saka has played in three of four different positions, including full-back, it’s a very impressive record.
Incredible goal involvement record for this season
Last week here at GiveMeSport, we did a ranking of the 20 teenagers with the most goal involvements in Europe this season. Ranking in seventh, Bukayo Saka has been involved in 15 goals this season.
This adds to his impressive stats, with the only teenager in the Premier League with more is Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood. On top of this, he has more than the likes of Canadian left-back Alphonso Davies, and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior.
Bukayo Saka is a talent already, and at such a young age his potential is at the top of the sport.