Wonderkid Bukayo Saka is making a serious claim to be in England’s Euro 2020 squad but Arsenal legend Perry Groves warns it may be too soon

talksport.com, 27 February 2020, 04:00
Wonderkid Bukayo Saka is making a serious claim to be in England’s Euro 2020 squad but Arsenal legend Perry Groves warns it may be too soon
In what has been another turbulent season for Arsenal, a true gem has been unearthed in the shape of Bukayo Saka.

Despite being small and light on his feet, Saka has taken each game by the scruff of its neck and has become a crucial member in the Mikel Arteta revolution.

With each passing performance, the 18-year-old is turning more and more heads and, inevitably, there are now whispers he could be in contention for a place in England’s Euro 2020 squad.

Saka produced another superb display on Sunday after coming on for the injured Sead Kolasinac during Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat of Everton.

Not only did he defend brilliantly, but he delivered arguably the best piece of quality in the match when he whipped a marvellous ball in for Eddie Nketiah to guide home.

His delivery was so good former Manchester United and England full-back Gary Neville was left purring at the piece of play.

“The quality of the cross was absolutely outstanding,” Neville said. “All you want is your striker in that position and he (Nketiah) is. He gets a good contact on it.

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“It's harsh to suggest Arsenal fans were happy that Sead Kolasinac went off but there was a bit of a cheer.

“What a cross from Saka. I was having a mundane chat because I thought nothing was on.”

It was Saka’s tenth assist in all competitions this term and he is now giving Gareth Southgate a genuine selection headache ahead of the tournament in June.

The question is – why shouldn’t he be considered?

Yes, many youngsters have failed to live up to the hype in the past and a call-up at such a young age could be detrimental to his career, but at the moment he is undoubtedly outshining any other left-back in the country.

Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen shot to stardom when they were called up to international tournaments as teenagers – why can’t Saka?

As it stands, Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell is England’s current first choice, but he isn’t performing as well as he was earlier this season and he was torn to shreds by Riyad Mahrez in the Foxes’ 1-0 defeat to Man City at the weekend.

Danny Rose’s start to life at Newcastle has been underwhelming and the 29-year-old has not done enough to retain his place in the Three Lions’ squad, while Luke Shaw is another unconvincing option.

However, despite Saka’s superb breakthrough campaign, Arsenal legend Perry Groves believes a call-up for the Euro’s may come a little too soon as he is still adjusting to becoming an out-and-out left-back.

"I think the Euro's is a bit too early for him.” Groves told talkSPORT.com. “He's done brilliantly but realistically he is a wide player who has been asked to fill in at left-back.

"He's adapted well. Going forward he's excellent. His final ball is really good as we saw on Sunday for the goal he made for Nketiah.

"The only thing he needs to improve on is recovering the ball quicker because as he is not a full-back he often jogs back instead of sprinting back into his left-back position.”

Groves suggested there are at least three players ahead of the Gunners starlet in the pecking order, but revealed that people at the club have been hugely impressed with his faultless attitude and willingness to improve.

"He's got competition with Ben Chilwell, Danny Rose and maybe Ryan Bertrand – who are more natural left-backs,” Groves added. “But he's 18 and playing with no fear at the moment. As the team improves he's getting better but I think realistically he will go with the Under-21s squad.”

"The next step for him is to play in Aidy Boothroyd's squad and establish himself there but at the moment he's not ready to make that step up.

"He's actually learning his trade in a different position and you can't have an England left-back who's learning their trade. It's not their natural position.

"But I'm lucky enough to talk to people at the club and everyone says his attitude is spot on.

"He's a level-headed lad and has an eagerness to learn and he's always asking the coaches for tips and that bodes well.”

In what has been another turbulent season for Arsenal, a true gem has been unearthed in the shape of Bukayo Saka.

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