Arsenal contract decision gives Mikel Arteta perfect example for Bukayo Saka’s iconic future

Bukayo Saka's next contract extension could cement him as a club legend at Arsenal
-Credit: (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal have successfully agreed and announced the extension of Leah Williamson’s contract with the club. The England international has already been with the side since 2006 and at the age of 27 has plenty of years ahead of her still as she also continues to hold the England captaincy.

Williamson is one of the few experienced players in the men's and women’s game who can sport the one-club badge. While there are plenty of younger stars who have been with the club since childhood, Williamson remains an example and that has come through in her words upon the renewal.

“Everyone knows what Arsenal means to me, but I think every time I sign a new contract, I feel that love ignite all over again,” she said. “I’m very happy to be staying – this is a place where I can still continue to grow, develop and be challenged.

“As a group, we’re all very focused on bringing more silverware to this club and I can’t wait to get started again when the new season comes around.”

For Mikel Arteta, Williamson has become a reference point in future conversations with some of his own academy graduates. Bukayo Saka signed a new deal with the club last year despite plenty of talk surrounding his future and links to both Man City and Liverpool.

Saka stands as the example for the youth academy of how you can become an established figure in the side and that a successful pathway does exist. Players like Ethan Nwaneri, Myles Lewis-Skelly and Chido Obi-Martin are all hopeful of emulating the winger.

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When he signed his new deal however last year, there was a focus more so on his own personal goals as a player. That Arsenal was the right place to achieve them.

“For me, it’s about achieving my personal ambitions; how much I push myself and demand from myself each game, week in, week out,” he said. “Then I have all the right people around me in terms of family, and when I come to the training ground, my teammates, the coaching staff."

Now well into his new deal, which expires in three summers’ time when he would turn 25, there is a decision to make. A contract at the age of 24 to 27 commits your future to a side for the long term and through your peak years just like Williamson has done.

Williamson’s multi-year deal, as it has been described, will see her play on through her late twenties. She has become an iconic figure in the Arsenal side, lifting the WSL title in 2019, two FA Women’s Cups and four League Cups.

She has cemented herself in the fabric of the side and will certainly be considered a club legend when she leaves. For Saka, the chance to follow in Williamson’s footsteps is there should he decide to commit the foreseeable future through his peak years to the club.