There’s only one place to start this morning, and that’s a confirmation Bukayo Saka has signed a new contract with the club.
He runs for four years, tying him to Arsenal until 2027, and is worth £15m a year. We can go into a little bit of detail, but most of all we should focus on what is just excellent news. Saka, aged 21, had just created a season in which he scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists. He is the jewel of our Academy’s crown and it was so important to secure his future.
Mikel Arteta says:
Retaining our best young talent is key to our continued growth and Bukayo is such an important part of our squad now and for the future.
Besides being a fantastic talent, Bukayo is an exceptional person, is loved by all of us and is a credit to him and his family for the hard work and commitment they all put in to get to this level today.
While Saka himself has explained his reasons, aside from the fact that he is an Arsenal lad who grew up at the club – it only goes so far:
For me, it’s about realizing my personal ambitions; how much I push myself and demand of myself every game, week after week. Then I have the right people around me when it comes to family, and when I come to training, my teammates, the coaching staff.
I think I have everything I need to become the best player I can be and that’s why I’m happy to stay here and stay here for the future because I really believe we can achieve great things.
Make no mistake, there is no club in the world that is not interested in signing him, even if realistically there are very few who might be attracted to him. What he says about Arsenal as the right place for him is in some ways a consequence of the progress we’ve made. I think the renewal would have been much more difficult if we had spent most of the campaign fighting for the Europa League and not the title.
Ultimately, there are shades of disappointment with how the season ended, but one of the positive aspects is that this seems like a team that can still do more, better. When you’re trying to re-sign a player like Bukayo Saka, it’s incredibly helpful. We’ve already seen how contract renewals for Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Aaron Ramsdale were much less complicated, and we hope this positive attitude will allow us to progress with the other players we want to sign. It’s just easier to convince players to sacrifice their future when you’re good.
As for the length of the contract – four years with no one-year extension like many contracts these days – I’m not too worried about that. Saka has a very clever agent and knows that after two years of the current contract, the process starts all over again. Saka will be only 23 at the time with many of his best years ahead of him. As I said above, the challenge of keeping him is directly related to Arsenal’s competitiveness as a club and if we are in a good place fighting for titles and hopefully winning trophies along the way, then this is our safety net.
As for his earnings, a deal worth potentially £15m a year is just £290,000 a week if – and that’s a big if – the whole thing is paid for on a basic salary. Which of course it won’t. It will be divided into bonuses, image rights and more; incentives that are part and parcel of every player’s contract. I will say that if Bukayo Saka takes home £290,000 a week, we will all be very happy with what he and the team produce.
Another thing to consider is that Saka is not only one of Arsenal’s best players but also one of the best players in England, so there is an element of comparing his salary to what some of his national teammates earn. That doesn’t mean we have to match the depth of Man City’s unlimited pockets or the stupidity of Man Utd’s or Chelsea’s wages for some players, but he had every right after what he produced and the consistency with which he did it to seek something out of it the very pitch.
I really don’t understand people who compare it to the deals for Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Saka is 21 years old with a whole career ahead of him, these guys were in their 20s and early 30s and heading towards the winter of their own careers. There are significant differences in motivation when you are younger, so I don’t have any concerns that it will affect his level of performance.
I would say that while I mentioned his consistency and accessibility, as indicated by the fact that he will play every game for the second season in a row, I think we need to find a way to manage his minutes better next season. Premier League and Champions League double season challenges.
If he plays against Wolves, Bukayo Saka will become the first player not to miss a single game in back-to-back league campaigns #Arsenal since David Seaman (1990-91 and 1991-92) and the first outfield player to do so for the club since Lee Dixon (1989-90 and 1990-91).
— Harvey Downes (@HarveyDownes92) May 23, 2023
He has the second most minutes on the pitch for us this season (behind Gabriel) and this period of five games without a goal at the end of the campaign is the longest since the three games back at the very beginning of August. This suggests that he, like some others and the team as a whole, have run out of steam a bit, but that brings us to the need for depth that we’ve talked about as being crucial for the coming summer. A real alternative to help him offload next time seems like an important part of our recruiting strategy. We know that Arteta wants another winger so let’s hope we can get that.
Anyway, that’s great news. He is a fantastic player and a brilliant man in every way. I cannot recommend it’s long read on the official site high enough – giving you a great insight into his progress at Arsenal from his arrival to now. It’s worth your time.
Okay, let’s leave that for this morning. More here tomorrow.