While most of the worries surrounding contract extensions at Arsenal are fixated on star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gunners have similar concerns with youngster Bukayo Saka. Like the Gabonese center forward, Saka’s current contract is set to expire with the north London club in the summer of 2021. Although he’s not exactly a high-profile player just yet, the England youth international’s stock has been soaring the start of the season.
Saka, 18, entered the current campaign as a U23 player with thoughts of receiving playing time sparingly through Europa League and cup matches. Nevertheless, the versatile player has received minutes in all four different competitions throughout the 2019/20 season, with 16 of his 24 total appearances coming in the Premier League.
Although normally deployed as a winger, Saka has been forced to fill in at left back this season due to an injury crisis at the position. With Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney battling injuries, Saka somewhat surprisingly became an adequate temporary replacement for the senior team. The youngster’s best position, however, is certainly further up the pitch on the flank.
With his development (and value) steadily inclining, Arsenal are risking losing Saka on a free next summer. Head coach Mikel Arteta was asked about this dilemma during his usual Friday press conference. “I am really happy with how they [young players] are developing,” claimed the Spaniard. “Part of that developing is to improve the contract and to tie them to the club. But that has to follow a natural process. We have Edu, we have Raul, Vinai, and Huss who are in charge of that and I am sure we will do the right thing when players deserve to improve and extend their contracts.”
Arsenal have had a history in recent years of allowing players to run down their contracts. In fact, midfielder Aaron Ramsey was the latest player to do so when he left for Juventus on a free just last summer. Nevertheless, this situation is a bit different than the other more high-profile cases over the last few years.
Saka is just 18 years old, reportedly on a £3,000-per-week salary, and is receiving his fair share of playing time. Arsenal can afford to seriously improve the player’s current contract without necessarily breaking the bank. While players in the past requested astronomical numbers and regular playing time, Saka’s potential next deal won’t have to be anywhere near tops in the team.
Saka’s value is also skyrocketing. This Arsenal brass will most likely keep one of their star teenagers knowing that he will both help the club right now and the fact that his value will only go up from here. It would give them the option to sell the player for much more money in the future if they were to go that route. The Gunners will have to persuade the youngster though, as Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Manchester United are all reportedly interested in securing Saka on a free next year.
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