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Bukayo Saka, Arsenal Battle to Retain their Jewel
After an incredible spell of form so far this season, Arsenal are finding it increasingly difficult to hold on to their jewel- Bukayo Saka. With five Premier League clubs and two Bundesliga sides monitoring the Anglo-Nigerian winger’s situation, it would almost be a miracle for the North London club to convince him to stay at the Emirate
At least five English Premier League clubs are believed to be monitoring the situation of Arsenal’s Nigeria-eligible wonderkid Bukayo Saka for a possible transfer in the summer.
Arsenal risk losing the England U-19 international with his current contract set to run out at the end of the 2020-2021 season and they have not yet revived contract talks as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Hale End Academy product was earlier linked with Manchester United, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Now, 90min.com claims Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea were also involved in the race for the talented winger.
Though Saka is attracting interests from big Premier League clubs, Arsenal remain confident that he would sign a new multi-year contract.
Borussia Dortmund are searching for a winger as everything indicates that Jadon Sancho, who shares the same agent as Saka, would be returning to the Premier League.
If Arsenal were to cash in on the Anglo-Nigerian teenager, he would be valued in the region of 20 million euros.
The 18-year-old academy graduate has been a regular for the Gunners this season, racking up 30 appearances in all competitions, with both former Arsenal boss Unai Emery and current head coach Mikel Arteta having reposed plenty of faith in the talented youngster.
But Arsenal are desperate to keep hold of Saka, who is out-of-contract at the Emirates Stadium next summer.
Though talks have stalled in recent weeks between the club and Saka because of the COVID-19 crisis, Arsenal remain hopeful that they could convince the teenager to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.
And Arteta, who has shown plenty of faith in Saka, could play a key role in persuading the teenager to stay in north London.
Arteta’s tactical acumen and ability to improve players on the training ground is also a factor which could sway Saka’s decision.
Arsenal fans were given a reminder of their head coach’s understanding of the game, after a video from FA Wales’ training conference in 2017 surfaced online.
In the clip, Arteta can be seen in front of a screen explaining to young players the runs he wants them to make and how he wants them to receive the ball and escape their markers.
The Gunners boss previously spoke about how he and the other staff at former club Manchester City had to iron out the bad habits in Raheem Sterling’s game.
Meanwhile, the Gunners may already have been preparing for the exit of Saka after Arsenal claimed to have ‘made contact’ with Real Madrid over a potential transfer move for left-back Sergio Reguilon, a report claim.
It promises to be a busy transfer window for Gunners coach Mikel Arteta by the time it comes around and the Spaniard is seemingly using his time without football to plot his transfer plans.
Whilst bolstering the centre of his defence and the centre of his midfield are top priorities for the Gunners boss this summer, he also has plans to address the left-back berth, with Reguilon reported to be on his radar.
The 23-year-old is currently on loan at Spanish outfit Sevilla and has made a very strong impression during his time with the club, racking up four assists in 25 matches from left-back.
And it is claimed that up to 10 clubs, including Arsenal and their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, have expressed an interest in landing the defender.
The report claims that Arsenal are weighing up a swoop for Reguilon as a potential replacement for Bukayo Saka, who is attracting interest from German giants Borussia Dortmund, despite Arsenal having no plans to sell the 18-year-old.
But with Saka having not yet committed his long-term future to the club, and his contract set to expire in the summer of 2021, there are fears beginning to mount that the left-sided star could leave the club.
Arsenal are struggling to reach an agreement with Saka over a new long-term deal as the Gunners have so far failed to tempt him into signing a contract extension.
Arsenal are prepared to offer him a five-year deal and increase his wages significantly following his breakthrough season at the Emirates.
Saka has made 10 assists and scored three goals in 29 appearances in all competitions this term.
And the young star’s incredible spell of form has not gone unnoticed by some of the biggest club’s in Europe.
Saka made his Premier League debut as a 17-year-old and became the first player born in the year 2001 to feature in the elite division, having replaced Alex Iwobi in the 83rd minute of Arsenal’s 4-1 victory over Fulham at the Emirates.
The winger has made his way up through the Gunners’ youth ranks and even progressed in England’s setup. Before making his league debut, Saka had appeared twice in the Europa League against Vorskla and Qarabag.
With the Gunners having a healthy lead, the youngster was introduced for Super Eagles midfielder Iwobi in the 83rd minute, meaning Saka was the first player born in 2001 to play in the Premier League at 17 years, three months, 27 days.
Born and raised in London, Saka is of Nigerian descent and has represented England at youth level where he currently plays for the U-19s.
Saka turned down Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and Watford to sign for Arsenal as a child.
“I had invitations from Spurs, Chelsea, Fulham and Watford but the only choice was Arsenal,” said Saka. “I enjoyed the way that Arsenal played so the choice was easy for me.
“I trained at Hale End and signed when I was nine years old. Receiving a scholarship and then signing a professional contract a couple of months ago and playing for the first-team has made this year very special already.”
How well Saka still enjoy the way Arsenal play remain to be seen as he is yet to sign a contract extension at the Emirate.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation is hoping to beat England to the Arsenal Wonderkid, but the federation are still lagging behind their English counterparts in the race for the services of Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka.
Amaju Pinnick, President of the NFF, is said to be an admirer of the 18-year-old, with the football administrator likening him to a goldfish with no hiding place, adding that he does not need to lobby before he is invited to the Super Eagles. Saka is provisionally cap-tied to his country of birth, England, having played competitively for the Young Lions at U1-7 and U-19 levels, meaning he has to apply to FIFA for a change of association if he decides to switch allegiance to Nigeria.
The 2019-2020 campaign has been a banner season for the versatile winger, so much so that there was speculation that he was going to be included in England’s European Championship squad.
The postponement of Euro 2020 by one year means the Nigerian Federation have more time on their hands to convince Saka to switch his allegiance to the three-time African champions.
A key member of Gernot Rohr’s technical crew has admitted that the Arsenal number 77 is among the English-based dual-eligible players being scouted with a view to a call-up to the Super Eagles, but the Coronavirus outbreak has slowed things down.
Asked if Saka has been approached to represent Nigeria, he told allnigeriasoccer.com: “There’s always hope until it is over but at the moment we are not doing anything because the world is faced with a different challenge, but when the time comes we’ll look into it.
“We look at everybody, there is no specific player that we look at, if they are eligible and their name flags up and they are one-eighth Nigerian we look at them automatically.”