The Gunners’ teen wonder has excelled as a fullback under the guidance of Mikel Arteta, but he has no intention of making it his permanent position.
Bukayo Saka has made it clear that his preferred position on the pitch of play is as a winger, flying past fullbacks.
The youngster burst into the public consciousness as a fast and tricky attacker on the wings. However, he has been deployed mostly as a fullback, and sometimes as a wing-back since Arteta took over as manager.
It has been a tactical change from the manager whose hands were forced by injuries to the club’s fullback duo of Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.
The 18-year-old has embraced his new role, taking to it with aplomb. He even delivered a man-of-the-match performance from that position in Arsenal’s latest 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle, the club’s first league win since a New Year Day victory over Manchester United.
Saka is grateful for the chance to learn new tricks as a fullback. He, however, has no doubt that he will soon return to his natural position further upfield as he has more to offer as an attacker than a defender.
“I’ve learned a lot about how wingers in the Premier League play against defenders and how to position myself because in his system it’s different,” the Arsenal Academy graduate told Arsenal’s official website.
“I get to play much higher because the winger comes inside, and I get to go. There’s a lot of space for me, and it’s good for me. I’m playing sort of as a winger when we have the ball, but without the ball, I have to come back and work on my clearances, my heading, and stuff I haven’t worked on my whole life. I feel like I’m doing ok right now.
“In the future, if I do get to go back onto the wing, I feel like I know how full-backs play and playing as a full back I know what wingers do, what I like them to do, and what I don’t like them to do. It’s a good learning experience for me.
“I’m really enjoying my football under the new manager. It’s not my natural position, but he’s given me all the advice I need. I’ve got Granit behind, David supporting and speaking to me, so it gives me licence to go and express myself in the final third and do what I can do.”
Saka and Arsenal next travel to Greece to face Olympiacos in a Europa League match on Thursday.