Bukayo Saka has already answered one of Arsenal’s biggest questions this summer – Chris Davison

From making his first team debut in 2018 to becoming an England international two-years later, it has been quite the rise for Bukayo Saka so far.

What makes it even more special though, is the fact that he earned it all. He works hard, his attitude is spot on and the lad is incredibly down to earth.

On top of all of those qualities, Saka is an exceptional footballer. He has everything it takes to become one of the most gifted in the world, and It’s looking good for him so far.

The Gunners endured a difficult 2020/21 season – and apart from it all coming to an end, there wasn’t really anything to be pleased about.

Despite all of the difficult moments for Arsenal, Saka was very much a silver lining throughout it all and if it wasn’t for his standout performances, last season would have probably been a lot worse.

After impressing England boss Gareth Southgate, Saka was rewarded with a spot in the Euro 2020 squad. It was a development which made the Arsenal fanbase overjoyed.

As we all expected, Saka looked excellent every time he featured, justifying why he deserved to be in the position that he was.

Saka and the England squad as a whole enjoyed a relatively successful tournament, bringing the entire nation together.

For the first time in years, there was genuine belief that they could go all the way and bring it home, but whatever the outcome, they did their country proud.

Despite reaching the final, it wasn’t to be. That’s football, it can be such a cruel game.

Unfortunately, it was Arsenal’s very own 19-year-old star who was given the responsibility of taking the last spot kick that night. Saka’s effort was saved by Donnarumma and Italy won the European Championship.

I cannot even begin to imagine what must have been going through the kid’s mind; the eyes of millions were focused on him and the stakes were huge.

The images of Saka in tears and being surrounded by his supportive teammates were truly heartbreaking. What did he do to find himself in that situation? It didn’t seem fair.

To this day, I still believe there were more senior and experienced players within the squad who should have stepped up and taken the penalty before Saka, but Southgate obviously knew something we didn’t.

Bukayo Saka was consoled by teammates following defeat in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images)
Bukayo Saka was consoled by England teammates after his Euro final penalty was saved (Photo by Carl Recine – Pool/Getty Images)

Now one thing that must be said, is that Saka didn’t miss, it was saved. The penalty effort itself wasn’t a bad one, it was just a case of being extremely unlucky.

The ending of that match was of course a tough one to swallow, and it is safe to say that it took quite a while for many of us to recover from.

The saddest part of all though, was the despicable racial abuse which was directed towards Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho after the game.

Despite what must have been an exceptionally tough period for Saka, I am 100% confident that he will be a stronger person because of it.

Arsenal fans, along with those who watched the Euros, will know what an amazing individual Saka is. He takes great pride and dedication in what he does, whilst aiming to be the best version of himself.

How he feels is never important to him, what’s important is that he’s putting smiles on other people’s faces.

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You can talk to any member of the Arsenal or England squad and they always speak so incredibly highly of the youngster.

For me, Saka’s character is his strongest weapon, and I have no doubt that it will take him to the very top.

Being a gifted footballer is one thing, but having the mindset and determination Is another trait on its own. If you don’t have both, it’s unlikely you’ll get far.

Arsenal’s no.7 has it all, and this is just the beginning for him. I expect Saka to bounce back and deliver his best year in red and white so far, because that’s the sort of person he is. Not to mention, Euro 2020 would have been such a big learning curve for him.

Speaking to the media during pre-season, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta echoed my thoughts and expects Saka to be okay.

“He will be fine,” said Arteta. “He is such a strong character. He has received a lot of love and support from world football, not only with Arsenal but the national team and all the English fans because he doesn’t deserve anything like what he has been through.”

The Arsenal forward joined back up with his teammates on Wednesday, as he begins preparation for the upcoming season.

Upon his arrival at London Colney, he was presented to a wall covered in hundreds of messages of support from the footballing community.

Saka received hundreds of supportive messages after Euro 2020 (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Saka was presented with hundreds of supportive messages at London Colney (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Saka was left speechless after seeing the display, and could be heard asking: “How do I even say thank you for all of this?”

It was a heart-warming moment and a very classy idea from Arsenal, there were so many messages that it probably took the club many hours to put it all together.

As the saying goes, love always wins.

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