Bukayo Saka has spent the last three years establishing himself as one of the best players in the Premier League. The Arsenal winger regularly ranks toward the top in goals across the league, and his ability to provide is also strong. He bumped up his assist and goal tallies in each of the last three seasons. Yet, there is one major omission from an otherwise sensational career individually. Trophies.

At the age of 22, Saka does not have the experience with Arsenal to have competed in games for trophies with regularity. So far, Saka’s highest team honor is the 2019/20 FA Cup. It is a nice medal to have on the resume, but Saka did not play in the semifinal against Manchester City or the FA Cup Final against Chelsea. To be fair to Saka, he was just a teenager at the time, and Mikel Arteta elected to go with a front three of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. The other two trophies in Saka’s career are the Community Shield in 2020 and 2023. These are trophies, but they are not career-defining competitions. That said, Saka has shown his ability in those wins over Liverpool and Manchester City as he logged an assist in both games.

The next natural step for Bukayo Saka’s career with Arsenal is to play a starring role for a major trophy. In all likelihood, that will come with time. Saka is a major reason the Gunners have shown consistent development in recent seasons. Last season, Arsenal came up short in the Premier League. With 10 games to go in the 2023/24 campaign, Arsenal is back in the mix following a sensational spell of eight wins on the bounce in the league. Arsenal winning that trophy would cement his place among the best players in the world, not just wingers.

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Bukayo Saka teetering on world-class level

That is an important distinction. Saka is already perhaps the best right-winger in the world. On top of that, he is certainly among the top forwards in Europe. However, he does not have the trophy cabinet that comes with being regarded as one of the best players regardless of position in the world.

Consider someone like Mohamed Salah, who is also in the conversation for the best right-wingers in the world. The Egyptian has a similar record in front of goal as the 22-year-old Saka. Yet, Salah has won the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.

This is the same reason Erling Haaland climbed up the tier lists after he joined Manchester City. Having an elite squad around him helped, but few players in the history of soccer have won the treble. As a result of his record-breaking debut season with Manchester City, Haaland is now one of the top players in the world.

Inherently, it is hard to compare positions. Saka is much more of a creative provider than Haaland. Likewise, any defender would be more capable of preventing goals compared to the Arsenal winger. That is why these arguments over putting Bukayo Saka in the world-class category are so challenging. The one common theme they have is trophies as those are team awards, not individual accomplishments.

Team success will come with time for Saka

Unlike Haaland, Saka did not join a star-studded squad. The English international was part of a poor squad at the Emirates when he was coming up through the ranks. Now, Arsenal has benefited from giving young players time on the field. Their experience is showing throughout the games. Whether that be comeback victories or results against top opposition, Saka is helping Arsenal to be in contention for more trophies.

That could come this season. The Premier League is a major step for Arsenal as it looks to end its 20-year drought as English champions. Yet, that is not the only opportunity. Arsenal is in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2010. Despite a challenging tie against Bayern Munich on the horizon, Arsenal remains one of the strongest and most in-form teams in the last eight.

Success there would be monumental for Bukayo Saka on the path to world-class rankings. Yet, even if Arsenal falls short, the early success and rapid growth will have the Englishman emerge as one of the top players in the world in due course.

PHOTOS: IMAGO.