The teenager’s attitude and willingness to learn new things have earned him the affection of his club boss. Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta has declared his admiration for the talents and, more importantly, readiness to adapt to new demands exhibited by Bukayo Saka.
Arteta has taken charge of two games since his appointment as Unai Emery’s permanent replacement two weeks ago.
The Nigerian whizz kid has started both of those games – the first a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth and the other a Boxing Day defeat at home to Chelsea. Traditionally a flying winger, the 18-year-old has however been deployed as a left-back by the Spanish manager.
It has been a difficult adaptation period for the youngster who has had to play the unfamiliar position due to the absence of the injured duo of Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.
But Saka has excelled as a full-back, learning new defensive tricks while still retaining many of his attacking instincts to the delight of Arteta.
“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 Arsenal website of Saka’s attitude.
“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.”
Arsenal host bitter rivals Manchester United on New Year Day with Saka expected to continue in his new position as the Gunners seek their first win in 6 games in all competitions.