Arteta salutes Saka’s sacrifice for Arsenal cause as youngster thrives in unfamiliar left-back post

The Gunners academy graduate broke into the senior fold as a promising winger, but is being asked to provide defensive cover at present
The Gunners academy graduate broke into the senior fold as a promising winger, but is being asked to provide defensive cover at present

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has saluted the sacrifices being made by Bukayo Saka for the good of the collective cause, with the versatile teenager currently filling in at left-back.

The 18-year-old made a senior breakthrough under Unai Emery as a promising winger.

A highly-rated academy graduate is, however, showing that he has more than one string to his bow and could prove to be a useful versatile asset for the Gunners.

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Freddie Ljungberg first asked him to fill a defensive berth after seeing Sead Kolasinac join Kieran Tierney on the treatment table, with Arteta keeping faith with that approach.

The Spaniard is pleased to see an ambitious youngster embracing whatever role is asked of him, with Saka showing that he is open to learning new skills while earning important minutes in his development.

“He's learning that you are able to adapt and that you are able to sacrifice for the team, and [you learn that you] don't use excuses,” Arteta told the club’s official website of an England U19 international.

“If you are moved, to say ‘OK, now if I do not play good, I have the right excuse because this is not my position’. It’s the complete opposite, try to learn, try to pick things up straight away and try to be more productive for the team, and I think he [Saka] has done it really, really well.

“Those game moments, you have to read them and when you play more games and you become more mature, you start to make better decisions all the time because you can sniff where the danger is, depending on the result, how many minutes are played and what happened in the last two actions. And we have to help him to do that.”

Arteta, who has overseen two games in his first managerial role, added: “I love working with young players.

“The last few years I worked with so many of them and it’s so fulfilling when they are willing and they ask the right questions, and they want more and they are eager to learn.

“It’s incredible because when that [development] really happens, afterwards, for them, it’s very inspirational.”

The next opportunity for Saka, and fellow youngster such as Joe Willock, to impress will come on New Year’s Day when Arsenal play host to Manchester United.

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