Bukayo Saka’s stunning breakthrough season continued with another assist in Arsenal’s Europa League win at Olympiacos, with his performance labelled “world class” by former Gunners striker Robin van Persie.
The 18-year-old provided the low cross that was converted by Alexandre Lacazette with nine minutes left to give Mikel Arteta’s side an impressive victory in their last-32 first-leg clash in Athens.
No other Arsenal player has provided more assists this season than the nine now laid on by Saka, who also has three goals to his name.
His performance certainly earned the approval of Van Persie, who thinks his pass for Lacazette is comparable to what we saw from some of the game’s greats.
”That type of pass is like from Ryan Giggs, Dennis Bergkamp, Paul Scholes, ordering your striker to move into that danger zone, it’s world class,” the former Netherlands forward told BT Sport.
“This is not simple but he makes it look easy. Only the great players can make those passes. This is a pass with an idea, with intent, and this is what you want from your players.
“He’s really taken his chance and it’s nice to see a young kid really grab his chance, to play for his future and do it so well.”
Former Gunners defender Martin Keown believes Saka’s emergence sends out a message to other young players at the club, as well as showing up some of the more senior players in the squad who are now behind him in the pecking order.
“He was third choice left-back at the beginning of this season, now look at him, he has nine assists and no one can live with him,” Keown told BT Sport.
“We shouldn’t forget that this young man is 18 years of age, he’s coming through the academy. I don’t want to pick on [Nicolas] Pepe but if you look at the performances, who is creating the assists? It is coming from the academy player.
“It’s fortunate that he is even in the team but he has really taken that [opportunity]. [Sead] Kolasinac is on the bench having to watch and suck it up.
“You take your chance and make your mark when you get the opportunity. That has to be the message to the young Arsenal players because [Mikel] Arteta will play you.
“If you’re good enough you stay in the team.”
Arteta himself was full of praise for Saka after the match, stressing he’s a player that’s always looking to improve.
“Absolutely, I’m really pleased the way he’s developed,” Arteta said of Saka.
“I think he’s really pleased the way he’s handling this situation because there’s a lot of highlights on him at the moment but he’s really humble. He’s always asking questions, meeting with my assistants and willing to improve.
“He’s a great kid and he’s very brave. He makes big decisions in the final third, he doesn’t hide and he’s got the vision and the ability to execute in spaces that are really tight which is a big gift.”