New Deal for Saka and Thoughts on the UCL Semis
Bukayo Saka has been a model of consistency for the Gunners and at such a young age of 21, he is closing in on 200 appearances for the club. Since his breakthrough campaign in the 2019/20 season, Saka has featured across several positions before making the right wing his own, ousting the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Willian, who aren’t at the club this season. While the shaggy-haired winger moved to Fulham after a stint back home in Corinthians, Pepe was shipped back to France to play for OGC Nice, but he has failed to command a first team berth in the French outfit, which essentially means that he will be back in the club this summer, and with a year left on his contract, Arsenal will have to make a decision on his future.
This season, Saka has scored 13 Premier League goals and created 12 assists for his teammates, making it his personal best in terms of his attacking output to the team. He is the current Player of the Season for Arsenal, an award he won two years in a row. Saka has been on an upward trajectory, playing consistent football and getting better with each passing campaign. As the young lad aged, he improved in maturity and most importantly, his growing influence within the team.
From the table above, Saka’s goal contributions have continued to improve and significantly, his goals came in the Premier League, as Arsenal were unfortunate not to feature in Europe two season ago. This campaign, he made a couple of times in the Europa League, up until the club’s exit in the Round of 16 against Sporting CP.
I am proud of what Saka has achieved thus far in his fledging Arsenal career and with his age, there is so much more to come from him. With Alex Lacazette leaving last summer, penalties have been added to his repertoire, which would allow him score more vital goals like the spot kick he took against Chelsea in last season’s surge for a Champions League finish. This season, he scored high pressure penalties against Liverpool and Manchester City, but lost a vital one against West Ham. Despite that miss, Mikel Arteta confirmed that he will still take penalties when the opportunity arises.
The Independent has reported that Saka is close to signing a new deal with the club, which is awesome news. Saka has his best years ahead of him and having him for the foreseeable future will bode well for the team as he continues to his influence, emerging to talismanic status. Saka’s contributions this season, alongside his teammates, has seen the Gunners come back to the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 season, which will crown what has been an exceptional campaign for the club.
Speaking of Champions League, I geared myself up as a neutral to watch the semifinal clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid. A draw was a fair reflection of the performances from both sides, but the quality of the finishes on the night were exceptional and both goalies have to be lauded for their amazing performances that kept the tie at bay, causing both teams to share the spoils.
The Manchester attacking juggernaut, Erling Haaland, was surprisingly quiet, and you’d have to look no further than the performances of Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba in central defense for keeping the Viking chieftain in their pocket for the entirety of the 90 minutes. Manchester City had the lion’s share of the possession no doubt, but Real Madrid were able to show their class and experience, which makes the second leg at the Etihad Stadium a banger.
The Champions League remains the most elite club competition in the world, and it is evident with the brand of football on display. With Arsenal finally set to grace the competition next season, Arteta and Edu have to use this summer’s transfer window to sign the right quality and quantity of players that would give the team the required depth to compete on all fronts.
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