Arsenal star Bukayo Saka emulates Thierry Henry and Ian Wright by retaining Player of the Season award

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 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Bukayo Saka has emulated the likes of Thierry Henry and Ian Wright by comfortably retaining Arsenal’s Player of the Season award.

The Gunners confirmed on Wednesday that Saka had claimed 58 per cent of the total votes supplied by fans to scoop the prize for the second successive year, a feat only previously achieved by all-time top scorer Henry, who last did it back in 2004 during the ‘Invincibles’ era, plus fellow club icons Wright and Liam Brady.

The England winger made a total of 43 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal across an eventful 2021/22 campaign, scoring 12 goals and registering seven assists.

Mikel Arteta’s side recovered from a dreadful start to the season to battle Tottenham for fourth place in the Premier League and an end to their five-year Champions League exile, eventually missing out to their north London rivals on the final day despite a 5-1 thrashing of Everton.

Arsenal, without any European football at all for the first time since 1996 this term, also reached the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, losing to eventual winners Liverpool, and the third round of the FA Cup, where they were upset by Championship play-off winners Nottingham Forest.

Saka also won Player of the Season honours last year with 51 per cent of the fan vote after scoring seven goals and providing 10 assists in 46 appearances. The previous campaign had been the academy graduate’s breakthrough at the Emirates.

Saka has also been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons, missing out in 2021 to Manchester City’s Phil Foden. This year he is up against Foden once again, as well as Conor Gallagher, Reece James, Jacob Ramsey and Arsenal team-mate Emile Smith Rowe.

The 20-year-old is entering the final two years of his contract in north London, though Standard Sport understands Arsenal remain hopeful they will tie him down to a long-term extension amid admiring glances from both Liverpool and Manchester City.

Bukayo Saka is the first Arsenal player to retain the Player of the Season award since Thierry Henry in 2004 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Bukayo Saka is the first Arsenal player to retain the Player of the Season award since Thierry Henry in 2004 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal have held initial talks with Saka and plan more for when he returns from Nations League duty with England, who play Italy and Hungary at Wolves’ Molineux next in their four-fixture block after last night’s 1-1 draw with Germany in Munich and an initial shock 1-0 loss in Budapest at the weekend.

Saka, who has earned 15 senior caps for England so far, started and played 80 minutes against Germany after being introduced as a half-time substitute in Hungary on Saturday evening.

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