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Bukayo Saka position switch infallibly similar to the rise of Gareth Bale


Although he is only 19, Bukayo Saka has already established himself as a regular for the first team at Emirates Stadium and you would be hard pressed to find an Arsenal supporter who is not totally impressed with him. .

He made his Premier League debut at 17 in a 4-1 win over Fulham under Unai Emery in January 2019 and since then he has never looked back. To date, Saka has played 45 times in the top flight, contributing six goals and seven assists.

His versatility and willingness to take on other roles in the team demonstrated his football intelligence, while also giving him the opportunity to play a lot of football – which is essential for a player who despite having looking as accomplished as most, is still very present. the development phase of his career.

Saka played as left-back, left midfielder, left winger, central attacking midfielder and as a right winger so far. However, his recent postings have made it clear that he can have the most influence on Arsenal’s side playing from the right flank.

Often times, a player as versatile as Saka can suffer from not having a clearly defined position. How’s that old saying? You can become known as “a jack of all trades and lords of nothing”. In fact, you could argue that has been the case with Arsenal and England teammate Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has repeatedly indicated that he feels his best position is in the middle of midfield. However, the majority of his first-team appearances have come as a full-back.

Being a predominantly left player, playing from the right allows Saka to cut inside on his stronger foot and attack the penalty area, but his pace and variety of play also allows him to take the rear on the flank, which makes it extremely unpredictable and efficient.

Bukayo Saka, Hector Bellerin
Bukayo Saka has scored four goals and provided two assists in his last six Premier League appearances | Pool / Getty Images

Judging by his assist for Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Southampton, for which he used his right foot to put a delicious cross into the penalty area on the volley, Saka is confident using both feet, which makes him feel confident. makes it extremely difficult to defend.

As such, the young England star could continue to emulate some of the game’s greats who have managed to move from flank to flank. Reverse wingers are a much more common sight in modern play and with the tendency for full-backs to do more frequent turns than ever before, it could be argued that it’s more important to have the ability to cut into the field on your stronger foot. .

Previous examples of players who have made the transition successfully include Gareth Bale, who started his career as a left-back, before moving to a left role before moving to right. After making the switch, the Welsh international has scored 76 goals and provided 54 assists in 186 appearances (via Transfermarkt) from that position and he is a prime example of someone who was able to have more of an impact on the game by cutting inside.

The same can be said of Arjen Robben, the Dutchman who has become iconic when it comes to reverse winger. The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich star is another prime example of someone who, at his best, was unstoppable, despite playing on what would have historically been described as his ‘bad side’.

It seems based on what we’ve seen so far, Saka has the temper and talent to emulate the aforementioned Premier League big names – so, in Josh Kroenke’s words, “Get excited”.

Saka signed a long-term contract with the club as recently as July 2020, and is understandably viewed by club supporters and Mikel Arteta as a key figure in Arsenal’s future. At that point, there is no reason why he cannot achieve hero status in North London.

Mikel Arteta, Bukayo Saka
Mikel Arteta, like Unai Emery before him, had no problem trusting this young man | Michael Steele / Getty Images

As impressive as he was on the left, however, it’s impossible to deny that he has taken his game to another level since his deployment on the right flank. He has played there regularly since the win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, scoring four times and providing two assists in six Premier League appearances.

Don’t underestimate the importance of his footballing education so far in his seamless transition from left side to right, but his recent form will have convinced Arteta of where exactly his best position is.