Tag Archives: Bukayo Saka.

Is Bukayo Saka the best in the world right now?

A discussion in the pub over the New years period was about Bukayo Saka.

The question was asked: “Is Bukayo Saka the best right winger in the world right now?”

He is clearly the first choice for Arsenal and England. So immediately you can discount any English right winger. We then began to work through the rest of the Premier League.

Saka would walk into Manchester City’s team (Riyad Mahrez). He would also be first choice at Man U (Antony), Spurs (Kuluveski) and Chelsea (Zieych?).

Liverpool are the only English side where he would not be a guaranteed starter. However, if Salah left tomorrow, Saka would probably be their number one target to replace him.

Considering Salah looks to be on the decline, I would imagine Saka would be a more attractive proposition to most players if both were available to sign.

We then looked beyond the Premier League, starting with France.

The only relevant team in Ligue 1 is PSG.

Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are probably the best front 3 in the world. But none play wide right for club or contry.

PSG play a narrow front 2, with one in behind.

It is usually Mbappe and Neymar through the middle and Messi in the 10. Although Neymar does have a tendancy to drop deeper to make it 2 behind Mbappe.

For country, Messi plays behind Julian Alvarez, Neymar plays left wing for Brazil, as does Mbappe for France.

I would imagine if PSG signed Saka, they would go to:

Saka Messi Mbappe
Neymar

With Neymar and Mbappe interchanging their position.

Then our journey took us to Spain.

We excluded Vinicius Jr at Real Madrid. He plays left wing for club and country On their right is Rodrygo.

Rodrygo is a talented young player, and will certainly be fighting it out with Saka in the future to claim the best right winger in world football. But for now, Rodrygo is that level below.

After years of injuries, Ousmane Dembele is finally fulfilling his potential.

Now 25, he is first choice on the right wing for club and country. A fantastic two footed player who is certainly a contender with Saka.

Now there are 2 sides to the Dembele v Saka argument.

I think at their best, Dembele is the better player. He has that little bit more than Saka. But Saka is a more consistent player and Dembele has not started more than 20 league games since 2018/19.

If Dembele stays fit and continues his current form, then their will be very few that will argue against him being one of the best in the world. but likewise if Saka continues the form he is currently in, then anyone still doubting his talent will be silenced.

I would have Dembele and Saka a score draw.

As for Germany and Italy, we did not really bother going into them.

Saka would start for both of their international sides, as he would for Argentina, Holland, Portugal, Croatia and Morocco. He would also start for Brazil.

It is only France who he would not be guaranteed a starting place for.

So in summary, is Saka the best right winger in the world? Well I would still have Salah above him, but Saka is closing that gap every game.

The best 3 right wingers in the world:

Mo Salah
Bukayo Saka
Ousmane Dembele

Cheers.

Keenos

Southgate exclusion of Arsenal youngster “utterly baffling”

The exclusion of Bukayo Saka from Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad has not garnered sufficient attention, owing to the fiasco surrounding Harry Maguire and his exploits in Mykonos.

Having been found guilty of repeated bodily harm, Maguire was subsequently withdrawn only four hours after the original squad announcement.

In an utterly baffling decision, one name is a glaring absence from the 23-man squad: that of Bukayo Saka.

Saka enjoyed a breakout season in 2019/20 for the Gunners in what proved a turbulent and tumultuous campaign for the club. Finishing with 12 assists across all competitions, the 

18-year-old firmly established himself as one of the Premier League’s future stars. 

His rise to prominence was deservedly rewarded with a new four-year contract in July, as well as change of shirt number from 77 to 7, one that Arsenal traditionally reserved for academy graduates who excelled in the first team. What made Saka’s performances all the more impressive were that they came from all over the pitch. Under Mikel Arteta, Saka has played at left-back, left and right winger and even appeared in central midfield. 

This brings us to Southgate’s squad selection and his curious decision to select no recognised left-back. If the Three Lions boss wanted someone who is familiar in that role, he would have called up Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell. Their absences are a sign that Southgate is willing to experiment with his formation and personnel for the upcoming UEFA Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark. 

Why then, was a player as versatile as Saka, left out of the picture?

Arsenal’s Hale End graduate has played as a full-back in both three and four-man systems at club level, possessing the required footballing IQ to interchange positions with a knowledge that belies his youth. His understanding of how his role in the England side would alter depending on Southgate’s preferred formation makes Saka the ideal starter on the left-hand side of defence.

When asked about Saka’s absence, Southgate replied that he “was watching him very closely”. This is undoubtedly true but perhaps the best way to judge a young player’s suitability for international football is to throw him into the firing line and see if he is able to perform under pressure. 

Southgate, who is an exceptional judge of a player’s character, would have been able to gauge the Arsenal youngster’s readiness to make the step up far more accurately by spending time with the player in person than through the feedback of assistants and contacts elsewhere. Saka would have also benefitted individually from the opportunity to experience the senior setup. He is yet to be officially capped by England after featuring for their age-group teams from U16 up to U19 level. 

Southgate and his staff may not have wanted to rush Saka into the England team after such an eventful season for the Arsenal starlet. However, the inclusion of other players who excelled at club level last season such as Mason Greenwood, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden makes the exclusion of Saka a perplexing one.

Zac Campbell

The Pub, The Arsenal, Saka, Martinelli & Aubameyang contracts

Who is off to the pub today?

I’m giving it a miss.

Nothing to do with my worries about Covid19 (I have no worries) and more to do with me not being bothered to wander round the streets of London looking for a boozer that is allowing people in.

Many pubs will remain shut, and those that are open will be at around 70% capacity. And that is actual capacity, not football day capacity where there can be hundreds in a pub which has a capacity of less than 100.

If you’ve booked your table for 2 hours, fair play. If you haven’t, go and get a few cans and sit in Finsbury Park, Highbury Fields or whatever open space is closes to your house.

Personally, I will be in my garden. The garden bar will be open. BBQ on. The game on my outdoors TV. And at £12 for 15 bottles of Amstel, plenty of money will be saved by all.

Out of nowhere yesterday Arsenal announced a new deal for Gabriel Martinelli. It came out of nowhere.

“Pay parity with Saka” a mate mentioned. And that’s probably true.

In Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, Arsenal have two of the most exciting teenage attacking talents in Europe.

It makes complete sense to ensure both players are on similar money, with similar length contracts. These two are our future.

Hopefully within the next week new contracts for the future is followed up with a new contract for the present. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Reports began to leak that Aubameyang is on the verge of agreeing a 3-year deal with a salary “up to £250k”.

This would represent a 2 year extension, with his current deal having 1 year to run.

It will be an interesting deal when it comes down to the money.

Not too long ago the squad agreed a 12.5% temporary reduction in wages for the 2020/21 season. The reduction would be halved if Arsenal make the Europa League.

Aubameyang’s new deal will surely take into account the squad agreement.

So if it is agreed he is to be on £250k a week, he would immediately take the 12.5% reduction, which would take him down to about £220k.

That would be the sensible action to do to ensure squad happiness.

It would be wrong if Arsenal have asked players to take a reduction, and then give Aubameyang a big new deal with no reduction.

You would be annoyed if you were a player sitting there on £100k a week, now earning £12.5k less, then seeing a teammate, who was already paid more than you, receive an extra £70k a week.

Arsenal will have to be clever with the deal, negotiating incentives with Aubameyang. A pay rise in 12 months time. Even a nice signing on fee or end of contract loyalty bonus making up the missing salary.

Today it is Wolves away.

A tough game but 3 points is essential.

Get to together with your mates. Have some beer. Watch The Arsenal. Stay alert. Stay safe.

Keenos