Mikel Arteta has hinted at the Bukayo Saka decision to be taken to aid Arsenal development

After an excellent season for Arsenal, Bukayo Saka has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man England squad ahead of Euro 2020.

The 19-year-old has scored seven goals and assisted 10 more in 46 appearances this campaign and has carried the Gunners in what is remarkably just his second season at first-team level.

Be it at left-back, right-back, left-wing, right-wing, central midfield, number 10 or either wing-back position, Saka has been remarkable in his consistency and mentality for such a young player.

However, it is his age that means that going into this summer he is someone over whom there are considerable concerns.

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Of the outfield players in the Arsenal squad, only Granit Xhaka has played more minutes than the exciting teenager, who has hardly had a chance to rest all the season.

The importance of the Gunners’ games in the latter stages of both the Europa League and the Premier League have meant that Saka has had to play more or less every three days in 2021 and it was telling that for the final day game against Brighton Mikel Arteta opted to give him a breather from the off and start Nicolas Pepe instead.

Unsurprisingly, with the number of games he’s playing, the 19-year-old suffered a hamstring injury back at the end of March which kept him out of the last England squad.

Having had little chance to recover since then, there is a genuine fear that he could suffer from burnout going into the Euros this summer.

Arsenal have been in this position before where they have overplayed promising youngsters, only to see them suffer with injury problems later in their career, with Jack Wilshere probably being the most extreme example.

Arteta has already admitted that this is something he is worried about and revealed last week that he has already spoken to Southgate about the issue.

“There is a risk,” the Spaniard said ahead of the game against Brighton. “I think the schedule there’s been in the last two years it’s been crazy.

Mat Ryan has Arsenal wonderkid Bukayo Saka good luck for Euro 2020. (Image: Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Mat Ryan has Arsenal wonderkid Bukayo Saka good luck for Euro 2020. (Image: Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images)

“(Gareth has) handled that situation really, really well. I know Gareth and he’s brilliant at managing them as well. We spoke about it. I just hope that they do the right thing.

“But (Saka is) very determined to go and help his country which is incredible at his age and he needs to enjoy that because he has earned every right to be there. Enjoy it and things will happen.”

Having been selected as one of the forward options for the Three Lions it looks as though Saka is going to have plenty of competition for places.

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Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho are all among a highly-talented group of wingers for Southgate to choose from.

Perversely this fierce tussle for spots in the squad may play into the 19-year-old’s hands as he is unlikely to have to play every minute of every match.

England are in action next Wednesday in their first warm-up friendly against Austria at Wembley, and that little bit of time off may be exactly what Saka needs to be fresh and firing if he makes it into the final squad for the Euros.

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