Arsenal urged to agree Odegaard, Saliba deals after ‘huge’ renewal of ‘one of the best in the world’

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Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka celebrates his goal Credit: Alamy
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka celebrates his goal Credit: Alamy

Ray Parlour thinks it will be “huge” for Arsenal when Bukayo Saka finally signs a new contract as “most teams around the world would love” to have the 21-year-old.

Saka is expected to put pen to paper on a new deal in the near future after months of speculation.

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In truth, his future at the Emirates has never been in doubt, though Manchester City have been linked with him.

The England winger is enjoying a terrific campaign for club and country.

Arsenal are currently top of the Premier League – eight points ahead of reigning champions City – and Mikel Arteta has his young core to thank for the club’s success on the pitch.

Saka is one of many young players thriving under the Spanish manager and his inevitable contract extension could be another shot in the arm as the Gunners aim to win the title for the first time since 2004.

Parlour is clearly a big fan of the 21-year-old. The ex-Arsenal midfielder thinks he is “one of the best” wingers “in the world” at this moment in time.

“When Bukayo Saka signs that contract, it will be massive for Arsenal, huge,” Parlour told Fairplay.

“In the open market, god knows what he would be worth, but every team would be queuing up around the block to sign him if they could.

“I’m talking the likes of Real Madrid… Most teams around the world would love someone like Saka in their team, who’s that good at that early age in his career, so it will be brilliant news for Arsenal when his contract extension is confirmed.

“I do believe that he’s one of the best in the world at the moment in his position. There’s Vinicius Jr. at Real Madrid – I know he’s on the other side but when talking about wingers, they are both up there.

“So I’m very happy to have him, not just for Arsenal but for England as well.

“He’s going to be a real superstar I guarantee, he has all the attributes needed. I think he’s that good.

“All he has to do now is concentrate on his football career and concentrate on getting better, which he will.

“Saka will like what he sees at Arsenal at the moment because when you look at the direction they’re going in, it’s a positive direction.

“The owners know now they’ve got the right manager to take the club forward and get back to winning ways like they did under Arsene Wenger.

“They’ll back the manager as we’ve seen by putting down the money for Saka’s extension, so it’s great news.”

There is a lot of talk about who will be named PFA Player of the Year.

Any other year, Saka would likely be the clear favourite, however, Erling Haaland is scoring goals for fun for Manchester City.

Parlour reckons the winner of the award could come down to who wins the Premier League title.

“It’s interesting because this season it’s so hard to say who’s been the best player for Arsenal,” he added. “I know most people would say Saka but you’ve got to look at Odegaard, Thomas Partey – who’s been such an important player – whilst Oleksandr Zinchenko has also been brilliant in the last few months.

“But Saka will certainly be on most people’s minds when you ask who’s been the best player and if I had to pick one, I’d go with him.

“As for the PFA Player of the Year, I think that the voters will be looking at who wins the league and how it all pans out in the title race.

“Erling Haaland could still go and bang in another ten goals and so it might be hard not to pick him, while Marcus Rashford has been on fire so he’s got to be up there.

“But Saka certainly is in the reckoning for Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, especially if Arsenal win the league.”

Parlour hopes to see Arsenal agree new contracts with Martin Odegaard and William Saliba after Saka officially commits his future to the club.

“You want the young players to stay together, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“Once you get a group of young players, they develop together. Gabriel Martinelli obviously signed a new contract, which is good news, it looks like Saka has and hopefully William Saliba is the next one that can sign a new contract.

“Martin Odegaard has also shown enough now to deserve a new contract, I’d certainly be negotiating, because he’s played so well.

“He’s been the best midfielder in the Premier League this season, he’s been that good for Arsenal. What he’s done in an Arsenal shirt has been excellent.

“It’s so important for the club, once you’ve got that young core of players, that you try and develop them over the next four to five years. And they’re only going to get better, that’s the beauty of having young players because they should improve together and if that happens the team will improve as well.

“I’m sure during the summer, if Arsenal can win the Premier League, there will be lots of players who are deservedly renewing their contracts.”

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