Bukayo Saka was rewarded for his fine Arsenal form with a call-up to the England national side in the last international break.
Saka is the latest in a string of prodigious talents who have successfully made the transition from youth to senior football in north London.
Under Mikel Arteta’s tutelage the 19-year-old has emerged as an exciting and versatile talent offering dynamism as both a left winger and left-wing-back.
Gareth Southgate handed him his first taste of international football against Wales last month and, barring a noticeably nervy opening to the game, Saka stepped up to the challenge.
Ahead of England’s next round of fixtures, which he will be a part of having been called up once again, Saka spoke to Sky Sports about his first taste of action with the Three Lions.
And when he was asked to name the player who impressed him most in training Saka named Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish as the outstanding player.
“He’s a top player. When I came here the first time he was the player who impressed me the most in training,
“Before we played against Villa at the weekend we analysed him and picked him out as one of their main threats and he showed it in the game.
“He was amazing from start to finish, so it’s going to be good to play with him and not against him this week.”
Perhaps a certain Harry Kane would have been a close contender but Saka was never going to acknowledge the quality of a fierce north London rival.
During a time when Southgate’s bizarre reluctance to integrate Grealish into the starting XI continues to prevail as England’s biggest talking point, Saka’s words serve to reaffirm the unanimous feeling across the nation.
Southgate’s decision to revert to a three-at-the-back system naturally creates its own set of problems for Grealish.
For all of the mercurial playmaker’s obvious star quality it seems that tactically he isn’t viewed as a player who naturally slots into the new formation.
Following his domineering display in Villa’s 3-0 trouncing of Arsenal last weekend, though, it is difficult to see how Southgate can justify leaving the 25-year-old out of his starting XI on Thursday.
Will Saka – valued at £36m by Transfermarkt – get his wish and line up alongside Grealish during the international break?
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