Well folks, some ‘good news!’ as Professor Farnsworth would say:
Bukayo Saka’s new contract was confirmed yesterday and we have our Starboy signed on the dotted line. Great to hear. This is a kid who has come from the Arsenal ranks, is a true Hale Ender, has become our star player in the last two seasons and has been a massive part as to why we got to second in the league this season and saw so much improvement in our side to challenge City to the final weeks of the season for the title.
I was there when Saka made his home debut in the Europa League back in 2018-19 and although that season will hardly go down as one for the ages from an Arsenal perspective, even at 17 and looking like a slight fella, you could see that he had talent. I remember even thinking to myself during the game – I think it was against Qarabag or somebody as equally uninteresting – that “this kid has got something about him.
Fast forward to today and we have ourselves one of the hottest young global talents, an English player who has lit up on the world stage at the World Cup and the Euros, as well as a guy who comes across as so humble. He has real cajones; taking penalties at the Euro’s, overcoming some horrendous online social media abuse, but coming back for us and when the opportunity came to take another penalty in Arsenal colours, he grasped it, stuck the ball away, and carried off where he left off post the Euro’s.
As each season has gone by his outputs have steadily improved and whilst we can’t say with any certainty that this Arsenal team will continue the linear progression of the last two seasons (because that would mean blitzing the Premier League and as we know that ain’t easy given the juggernaut we are up against in Financially Doped FC), what we can say is that Bukayo’s consistent improvement at the sharp end of the pitch has been there for all to see. This season he has 14 goals and 11 assists. Last season he finished on 12 goals and seven assists. It was less the season before that. He has been growing in influence and importance and I don’t think it is unrealistic to think that he will even improve on what he got this season. He doesn’t even turn 22 until September.
So this signing was a very important one for Arsenal. He is the poster boy. He is the shining light. He is the guy that is fronting this particular ‘process’ of Mikel Arteta’s. Arteta relies on him, as evidenced by the fact that he’s played in almost every single game we’ve had this season. Arteta feels that he just can’t drop him. And when you look at some of his outputs this season you can see why.
Sure, he’s dropped off a little in recent weeks, but so have the whole team and I think a lot of that is down to the fact that we’ve relied on Saka so much. Perhaps next season will see a bit more depth added and Arteta can ensure that we get a peak Saka for as much of the season as possible. Or perhaps he will grow even stronger, even more prepared to play in the 70+ games that Arteta talked about the best players in the world playing? Who knows. What we do know is that we’ve got him for a while longer and when you watch some of the videos that the club have released, you know that he loves it at The Arsenal and is happy.
But we need to make sure we remain competitive to keep him. If I’m going to have a teeny-weeny nagging doubt, it is that the deal is only for four years. That’s a shrewd agent he has there. The guy knows his onions and more importantly he knows that his client is an extremely sought after player. Getting a four year deal meals Saka can focus on his football now, keep improving at The Arsenal, but if we fall off within a couple of years, we’re back in to fretting over his contract again in 2025. In an ideal world you’d want a four plus one year deal but according to David Ornstein that’s something that isn’t on the table and it shows that Saka’s representatives have probably got most of what they want, because a ‘plus one’ deal is usually put in place to protect the club more than the player. In this instance we don’t have that so much.
Perhaps it is also in place because Saka’s people know that in two year’s time he could be commanding even more than the eye-watering £288k-per-week deal that Arsenal have forked out. Don’t get me wrong, he’s our best player, so should obviously be rewarded with the best contract, but in two year’s time we could be looking at even more eye-watering numbers.
But hey, I’m not responsible for Arsenal’s accounts and ultimately I need to put my trust in the club that the are doing the right things. The signs of the last two years have suggested that they certainly have been.
These worries over contract length are probably for another day though. Today is about celebrating that we’ve tied down another great young talent to The Arsenal, in the wake of Ramsdale also committing his future last week. The hope is we see White and Saliba signed up, as well as Odegaard, in the coming weeks, then we can look to where we need to strengthen in the squad to stand a hope of competing again in the Premier League and Champions League next season.
That’s it from me for today. You and yours have yourselves a good one.