FIVE who could replace Saka on Arsenal’s right wing

Yesterday, we discussed the type of player we need to sign to cover Bukayo Saka. Today, I try and establish 5 players who could be his cover next season.

We established 5 characteristics his cover needs to have: left footed, U24, technically sound, defensive work rate and versatility.

Not everyone on this list covers all 5 categories, and just because they do not doesn’t mean they should be discounted. Obviously you would want them to cover as many of the 5 points as possible, but someone who does would probably be a first choice player at a top club rather than being happy to be a squad player for us.

Michael Olise

The Crystal Palace player has the potential to be a special player. Just 21-years-old, he glides past players for fun and has a wand of a left foot.

Prior to be fired, Patrick Vieira would also utilise Olise as a number 10.

The concern is, however, is that he does not really have the output that he technique and ability deserve – with just 2 goals and 5 assists this year. But with his tools, he is surely one of those players that would get better plying with better players.

I am not sure about his defensive work rate. Palace do not tend to defend from the front. They stick 7 behind the ball and leave the 3 front men on the half way line ready to spring an attack.

Palace spent around £10m signing him from Reading in 2021. I would expect him to cost £30m+ this summer.

Olise ticks a lot of the boxes, and has that added attribute of Premier League experience.

Ferran Torres

Arsenal were linked with the ex-Man City man in January, despite him only having joined Barcelona 12 months before.

Barca a paid €55m for Torres 12 months ago, but with their well publicised financial problems, they will have to cash in on a few players this summer. This could lead to a bit of a fire sale.

In Torres, Raphina, Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati, Barcelona have a surplus of wingers. Both Gavi and Pedri have also played outwide this season.

If they are looking to sell to raise funds this summer, you feel it will be through selling either Torres or Dembele.

At times for City, Torres looked exciting, but he engineered a move back to Spain due to lack of game time. He has found himself on the bench for much of his Barcelona career. Would he want to continue being a squad player at a top club? Or does he hunger to be a starter, even if it means taking a step down a level?

He is certainly the right age and is technically sound. However he is right footed.

Much of his career, Torres has played on the left wing cutting in on his right. We have Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard to do that. He would not be a like for like replacement for Saka, but would still be a good option.

There are also concerns about his defensive contribution, and many of his good Man City performances came off the bench in games that were already won.

Torres has played left, right and through the middle during his career, so he would be a very versatile option.

Arteta had already left Man City when he joined, so there is not the link that our manager had with Gabriel Jesus and Olesandr Zinchenko.

I think Torres would be an outside bet, but I am not hugely sold on him.

Jarrod Bowen

Not too long ago, there was a debate over who should start for England – Jarrod Bowen or Saka.

The fact people were comparing a then 20-year-old to someone 5-years his senior showed the talent we had in Saka.

Bowen is left footed and works hard for his team. He has played both right wing and throug the middle for West Ham over the years. 12 goals and 10 assists for the Hammers last year shows he would be both the goal scoring and creative output we would need to cover Saka.

If West Ham go down, he might push for a move. And with twins on the way with East London royalty, he will probably not want to venture too far from his London home.

Bowen will be 27 in March, so you have to question whether he would desire the move. Playing second fiddle to Saka would probably end his hopes of adding to his 4 England caps.

But then Bowen has gone from Hereford to Hull City to West Ham, so he might be thinking this is the last chance for him to play for a top, top club. And play Champions League football.

I can not see him going to Newcastle with such a young family. Liverpool do not need any forwards, and Manchester United have cover out wide. Manchester City already have Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden.

That would leave Arsenal and Tottenham.

He would probably be a regular starter for Spurs, whilst he would only be a squad player for us. I guess it then comes down to whether he wants to win trophies…

I would imagine a move for Bowen would be a back-up option for us. And that could mean he moves elsewhere whilst we pursue better, younger targets.

Samuel Iling-Junior

The former Chelsea academy product was born in Islington.

At 16, Samuel Iling-Junior rejected a professional contract with Chelsea and opted to sign for Juvenus on a 3 year contract. That deal was due to expire this summer, but the Italian side secured an extension through to 2025.

A left footed left winger, he has made a few cameo appearances off the bench for Juventus’ first team this season.

Iling-Junior glides past players for fun and has a powerful left foot – although his goal scoring exploits have only been at junior levels thus far.

He looks to have the raw talent to transition to the right wing, where he will be able to cut inside onto his left and fire in shots or inswinging crosses to the far post. But he has a lot to work on.

Iling-Junior reminds me of a young Saka.

When Saka was breaking through, he looked tentative in and around the box. Almost as if he was nervous to put his laces through the ball in case he missed. He has since got over that.

If Iling-Junior grows in confidence, he could become a superb winger and will probably be Saka’s understudy for England for time to come. So can he be Saka’s understudy now?

If we are going to take the risk on someone so raw, we might be best off looking at someone a bit closer to home…


Whenever I write these sort of blogs, I try to find someone from within the squad that could be a viable option. That man is Marquinhos.

The Brazilian signed last summer and is on loan at Norwich City.

Just 19-years-old, he ticks the boxes of right age, and being a left footed right winger. But he is very much a rough diamond.

Marquinhos showed glimpses of his talent in a couple of Europa League games, scoring and assisting against FC Zurich. But this level is way below where we expect to be next season.

His sole Premier League appearance came as a time wasting substitute against Brentford when were were 3-0 up. He also came on against Oxford United in the FA Cup with 8 minutes to go and the game already won.

Four goals and two assists in four Premier League 2 games showed that at 19 he was already too good for that level. Too good for the PL2, not yet good enough for the Premier League, it made sense to send him on loan and he ended up at Norwich.

He was on unused substitute for Norwich for 5 games, which perhaps showed his fitness was not quite at the level to be starting. He then scored and assisted on his debut before being back on the bench.

He started and got sent off in his next game, although that red card was rescinded.

That decision to rescind his red card was at late notice, so Canaries manager David Wagner decided to use him from the bench against Stoke City.

I think he is raw, much rawer than Martinelli when he joined (Gabi’s scored 10 goals in 26 games in his first season).

Marquinhos is a talent, but would I be confident him coming in next year if Saka picked up a long-term injury? Probably not. He could do with a full season on loan at a Premier League side next season.

I guess the question then is can Arteta make do with Saka being covered by Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith Rowe, Trossard, Martinelli and Jesus before Marquinhos steps up in 2024? It would be a gamble.

Do you have any other suggestions? comment below.



1 thought on “FIVE who could replace Saka on Arsenal’s right wing

  1. Johnny

    Dejan Kulusevski would be a good choice, he did well for Sp*rs during early part of the season, technically excellent, could see him linking in a similar way as Saka does with Odegaard and White and he’s a liking for The Arsenal!

    Also, think the obligation to buy only applies if Sp*rs qualify for the Champions League



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