It really is an exciting time to be an Arsenal fan.
The club have a genuine shot of returning to Champions League football, Unai Emery could be on course to lead the Gunners to their first piece of European silverware in 25 years, and Arsenal have some of the most exciting young players in Europe amongst their ranks.
As well as signing the superstars of tomorrow, the Gunners are producing a good number of players who could one day become crucial first-team players. The likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock have been impressive this season, and Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson are gaining first-team minutes and experience in the Bundesliga.
And now, there’s another Arsenal youngster that has got fans excited, 17-year-old prospect Bukayo Saka.
The winger has already featured of the first-team Gunners this season, coming off the bench in three times in the Europa League, Premier League and FA Cup as well as starting for Arsenal in Europe against Qarabag, making Saka the first player in over a decade to make his senior debut in the same year as he signed a professional contract for the club.
Saka has Arsenal fans excited, and his recent performance for England-U19’s got Gooners even more hyped about the 17-year-old as the winger bagged a brace and an assist in his first start for the Three Lions, with Gareth Southgate watching from the stands.
So what does the future hold for Saka? And is the hype around his potential justified?
In the age of modern football, it is unlikely we will see Saka feature regularly for the Arsenal first-team just yet. The 17-year-old has only just made the jump from the U-18’s to the U-21’s, and academy manager Per Mertesacker has already said they aren’t going to rush the Hale End prospect just yet into Premier League football.
Another season in Premier League 2 and starts in the domestic cups seems to be the most sensible option for Saka’s second professional season as an Arsenal player, and if he continues to impress a half-season loan-move to a team in League One or Championship could be another smart move for his development.
Arsenal currently only has two natural wide-men in the side in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi, meaning it seems likely we could see more wingers brought in over the summer. But, Emery could save Stan Kroenke millions by including Saka in his first-team plans on a consistent basis next season, and it would allow the club to focus on other areas of weakness.
With Nelson and Smith Rowe returning and Saka potentially pushing for a first-team spot next season, Emery might take the unconventional route and use youth next season.
Saka is one of the brightest prospects to come through at Arsenal in some time, and with fans and former players excited about what this young winger can become, you can bet we will see more of him next season in north London.
Arsenal fans, how far do you think Saka can go in his career?
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