Arsenal must avoid doing to Saka what they did to Maitland-Niles

Bukayo Saka Must Not Become Another Maitland-Niles

There’s a saying that when life offers you lemons, you make lemonade with it. That’s exactly what Bukayo Saka has been doing this season. The 18-year-old has taken the opportunities offered him by a middling first squad and has made every minute worth it, especially in the Europa League where he has been one of Arsenal’s best players. In fact, he was doing so good that he has assisted the most goals out of anyone in the club this season. Whether it’s at Manchester United or at Frankfurt, Saka has made an impact whenever there’s a chance.

Then came the injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney. Saka, who plays as a left-sided as a winger, had to slot in that precarious position in our defence line. Another lemon. The situation looked eerily similar to what had happened with Ainsley Maitland-Niles two seasons ago. A promising youngster who had to fill in another position and ends up being stuck there because of competence or a lack of it elsewhere.

Well, against Sheffield United and Chelsea, Saka is giving us all a public lesson in how to make lemonade. After the first twenty minutes which was shaky against Chelsea’s own homegrown talent, Hudson Odoi, Saka seemed to have gained all the ingredients needed for a sweet, cold lemonade. Lemonade so good it forced the opposing winger to switch and try his tricks on the other flank.

But as much as lemonade can be great, it must be limited to a few tumblers. Bukayo must be returned back to his position on the wings. He’s demonstrated that he could make an impact there, too, and what would be better than to trust him where his skills best suit?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles might be an example but he must not be a trend. Not when we just bought a promising Scottish left-back for 25 million euros. Not after all the goals, assists and spectacular ball control that we’ve seen on display at Old Trafford and such like. Bukayo Saka must not become another Maitland-Niles.

An article by Agboola Israel


    1. AMN has more been a victim of formation changes and some weird belief that he is a central midfielder.

      As an avid follower of youth football, a scout and a coach, I have rarely seen AMN play in central midfield. In fact I would say I have seen Saka play more matches at LB than AMN has played CM at academy level. Even when AMM went to Ipswich he played RW.

      Learning to play different positions is a trait not a hinderence it enhances development before reputations. Ronaldo was a fine winger, but excelled when he developed into a CF. Sol Campbell was a decent CF,but became a truly great CB, there has been many more, Ashley Cole, Emmanuel Petit and to a lesser extent Gilles Grimandi.

      Let coaches do their jobs and as supporters or fans do yours. True quality always rises to the top, it’s not all about your ability at youth level, it’s about your physical development, attitude, dedication and many other aspects

      1. Atid, I agree with your observations regarding the development of younver players by playing them in diffefent positions wholeheartedly.

        Just an observation regarding AMN and how the club view him though – the official hanbook stateshe is a defensivemidfield player and hehas been forced to play out of that position due to circumstances that weren’t about enhancing his development.

        As you say, if anyone can get the kind of footbsll from him that he showed earlier in hix career, then it will be MA.

      2. Amen to you sir! I don’t know about you but if we can have a left side made up of Saka, and Martinelli for the next decade, then we’ll be a serious force. Tierney could potentially be a left sided CB for us, the way Xhaka slid into that role against the Cherries. I wouldn’t take Saka off the pitch at this point after all he’s shown.

  1. Amn, is a good footballer and may or may not still make it. Saka is a great footballer and he is talented, that is obvious to see. Im not sure where his final position will be but if Tierney is as good we could have a very strong youthful left side.

  2. It is very obvious that Saka is more talented than A. M-Niles and he will return to the wings when Tierney and Kolasinac comes back.

  3. Let’s leave Saka in Artetas capable hands! I know we all think we could pick a team as well as anyone! But let’s face it we can’t.
    He will develope a prodigious talent the right way as he will all our great youth players.

  4. Let’s wait and see how they progress before we put them on a pedestal or discard them

    They are young and need nurturing, good mentoring, good training

    We will see in a few years if they live up to potential

    I have strong hope for Saka, Guendouzi and Martinelli esp but others could surprise us

  5. Saka is still incredibly young. Who is to say this isn’t his natural position in the future? Pigeon holing a youngster into a specific position bc he played that growing up isn’t a great idea. I couldn’t tell you the amount of strikers or wings I grew up with who went on to college and got moved to a back. Saka has shown a lot of promise there. Who knows what will happen but you can’t dictate where you play someone based off of someone else’s experiences.

  6. For me I want his partnership on the left flank with martineli maintained. There is something building up there and trust me we will be better for it. Both are young, hungry and super talented.

    1. I’m thinking for the time being we leave the left side alone with Saka, and Martinelli, move Auba to the middle, and leave Pepe coming from the right wing. Let Laca work on his form. I know that Bournemouth have been relatively poor this season, but Arsenal looked really good for the first time this year before fading in the 75th minute again.

  7. Remember chamberlin
    We buy him as right winger
    But wenger say hes future is as middlefield like gerrad
    But he mostly playing as right winger, lb and wb.
    Fans said hes best position is wb, but wenger still say his future is in middlefield.
    Now hes liverpool player, and we still dont know what is hes real position.
    Its same apply to iwobi, victim of many position.
    No everybody can be james milner.

    1. Well, Ox is primarily a CM at Liverpool.
      That’s because his crosses have always been too mediocre for a top RW.
      He’s primarily an athlete who has lots of stamina and is strong, but Klopp has improved his skills somewhat as well.

      Saka will be fine as he’s better at LW than AMN is in a midfield role. It will boost his defensive awareness which is quintessential in a modern winger (unless you’re as good as Hazard).

  8. Good job again Israel. It was a joy to read your article one more time. It had this flow with it that was truly beautiful. I only think the main point of the discussion is totally not necessary. If you retain Saka in the left back position he’s presently playing, what will happen to Tierney when he comes back from injury?

    I don’t believe for a second that Arteta will retain him there. He will return to his natural left wing position. His stay in left back has only given us another option and opened a tactical opportunity for the coach. Period.

    There is no fear to entertain. Saka in NOT going to be another AMN.

  9. Saka is doing great as a LB/LWB.But i fully expect tierney will get his place because he is a natural LB.And i think many of the times Saka was not exposed defensively because Xhaka covered for him well but with tierney we dont have to do that.He has the instinct of a good defender.Very clever(the way he dealt with adama traore…..❤👌)and his crosses are very effective as well.

    Saka will return to his left wing position soon and i hope tierney returns quickly.

  10. So player with most assist: 18yrs saka, player with 2nd most goals: 18yrs martenelli. What does that make of our senior players, decide for yourselves ?

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