Mikel Arteta has now taken over the helm from interim manager Freddie Ljungberg and is the man chosen to take Arsenal into a better tomorrow.
Of course, steadying a sinking ship is never easy and with the Gunners struggling in 11th place in the Premier League table, it’s pretty safe to say that they could be put into that very category.
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But not all is bleak and maybe the Gunners’ youth can still help the fans and the board feel optimistic for the future that lies ahead. One player, in particular, looks like a real gem in the making – Bukayo Saka – and one of Arteta’s priorities at Arsenal should be trying to mould him into a first-team superstar.
The 18-year-old prodigy has already tallied 16 senior games in the ongoing 2019/20 campaign and has two goals and five assists to show for them.
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He was particularly impressive in the clash against Everton, as he embraced the fairly unfamiliar role of left-back and made it his own, showing Arteta that he’s willing to adapt to the needs of the squad, and he continued there against Bournemouth without putting a foot wrong.
Ljungberg has been full of praise for the youngster in the past, showering him with compliments after his Europa League display vs Standard Liege, as quoted by AS:
“He was amazing. His final ball, and last bit, is always effective. He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He’s a tremendous talent. I feel sorry for our young players. A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again. But Bukayo had a tremendous night.”
Clearly there is an early maturity, an element of versatility and an end product in Saka. That all creates a recipe of a young player with a big future, provided he works with a manager who is prepared to give him the game-time to develop and has the qualities to bring the best out of him.
Seeing how Arteta has been plying his trade under Pep Guardiola, a man who built a large chunk of his reputation and pedigree with his consistent trust in young players, maybe the new gaffer is indeed the man to transform Saka into a key player for Arsenal.
Of course, we still don’t know what kind of a manager will he be but we just might see some shades of the current Manchester City coach in the new Arsenal boss. In fact, we already have – after the draw with Bournemouth, Arteta put his shoulder around Reiss Nelson in a manner that drew comparisons with Guardiola’s treatment of Raheem Sterling.
If Arteta can apply that kind of man-management to Saka as well, while continuing to ensure him the necessary game-time to gain experience and learn from his mistakes, then perhaps the 18-year-old can indeed blossom into something special.
His senior performances so far for Arsenal suggest he’s well worth investing that level of faith and focus in, and if Arteta is to turn the Gunners back into a Premier League superpower, it will require a new generation of players that play to his philosophy.
Saka’s there to be moulded.
Elsewhere, one Arsenal target has received glowing endorsement from the ones that know him best…