Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is being talked up as the Premier League’s player of the season – and for good reason. The 21-year-old has been outstanding in the Gunners’ title charge in 2022-23 so far.
Absolutely adored by the Arsenal fans, his team-mates and coaches alike, Saka looks set to commit his future at the Emirates by signing a long-term new contract that would make him the club’s best-paid player.
Some legendary former players love what Saka is doing, too. Here are 10 Arsenal greats on how brilliant their starboy has been this season.
“What amazes me about him is he always makes the right decision, it’s incredible,” Wilshere wrote in The Sun.
“It is so rare for a young player – he’s only just turned 21 – to instinctively know what is right in any given situation. I stress with my Arsenal Under-18 players to study him.
“If the situation calls for a five-yard pass he’ll do it but if he has to beat someone he’ll do that too. Bukayo always gets it right, which is a skill itself.
“His level of understanding is that he’ll know if he plays a certain pass, the free player will be there. He won’t try and force it.”
“If there’s a better player in world football at the moment, someone who both scores and makes goals, the only one I can think of is Lionel Messi,” the legendary former captain told The Sun.
“Bukayo is absolutely on fire and the reason Arsenal are top of the table.
“Erling Haaland might be scoring hundreds of goals for Manchester City and Marcus Rashford is also having a phenomenal season for United.
“But Bukayo is, hands down, the Footballer of the Year because he was England’s best player at the World Cup and he’s been the best player for the team eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.”
“There’s so many players I’m looking forward to seeing in the game,” Arsenal’s all-time goalscorer told Amazon ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Man City in February.
“But I’m going to have to mention Bukayo Saka.
“Why? Because the way he came back from the Euros, missing that penalty, he’s never looked back since.
“And I just think that I want the team to win and all of that, but I want him to play well in that game [against Man City], play well until the end of the season and to be the player that can decide games.”
Arsenal's past 🤝 Arsenal's present
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) February 14, 2023
“I’m happy about his development and the fact he’s still playing at Arsenal,” told L’Equipe during the World Cup.
“I was told about him when I was still at the club, he was one of two or three guys who were coming through. I heard some very good things about him, I’m told he has a very good mentality.
“That’s reassuring because these days, players are glorified so quickly that it’s important for them to have good foundations.”
“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.”
“They have recruited well but also developed from within, players who understand the culture of the club and play with the heart of the fans,” Keown wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“No one encapsulates that more than Bukayo Saka. Saka was immense in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Manchester United. He is, right now, the one player who would walk into the 2003-04 Invincibles team. The way he ghosts past defenders reminds me of my old favourite colleague, Marc Overmars.
“Used initially by Arteta in the Europa League, like Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah, Saka now has the world at his feet. His work ethic is infectious — so is his smile.
“He has the trickery of Phil Foden and the pace of Marcus Rashford all in one. It is a unique skillset and he is as tough as teak to go with it.”
“First advice to Arsenal is to make sure Bukayo Saka is signed for 10 years,” says the former centre-back.
“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.”
"Make sure Bukayo Saka signs for 10 years." 🔒
Kolo Toure's advice for Arsenal 🔴 pic.twitter.com/0EJudKC1vs
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 28, 2023
“We’ve all seen his quality,’ Pires said of Saka in an interview with FourFourTwo. “I’m not surprised by his career.
“I’m in contact with him and we chat from time to time. He asks me for advice, and he’s a very intelligent boy.”
“I’m very impressed with him as a person and a player,’ the Frenchman told Compare.bet.
“He’s a humble guy, a hard worker, respectful.
“He keeps focused on his ambitions. After everything he has been through – the criticism and the racism, he has been incredible on and off the pitch.
“He is the future of Arsenal and the future of England. He, [Jude] Bellingham and [Phil] Foden are the future of the England team.
It is so important to have players like Saka, they are priceless. Players that are professional, humble, and respectful. I rate him so high and he can still improve a lot.
‘He’s grown so much in the last 2-3 years, and he has already done so many beautiful things and he can still do so much more.’
“He’s a bit of a bluffer as he makes opponents think he’s too nice but when he’s on the pitch he’s a different animal!” Fabregas told Sky Sports.
“He’s having a fantastic season. I’m so happy for him.”