On Friday, Arsenal announced that Bukayo Saka and Arthur Okonkwo had both signed new deals, after turning 17 this month.
We already brought you the news of Saka’s deal earlier this week, but it’s good to have it confirmed by official channels. Okonkwo signing professional terms went a bit more under the radar, but he’s another player fans should be happy to see tied down. Let’s have a look at why:
Okonkwo is very highly rated by those in and around the academy. He also drew a lot of interest from outside the club earlier this year, before he agreed scholarship terms to stay.
It’s not hard to see why either. Despite just turning 17, the England u18 international already has the physicality of a senior goalkeeper, at 6’5″. His command of the penalty area is very good, and he has surprisingly good reflexes for a player of his stature. In four youth games for Arsenal and England this season he has three clean sheets.
At the time of writing, Okonkwo’s currently taking part in an u18 match against Southampton, and has just saved a penalty.
It’s not the first time he’s shown heroics in spot-kick situations. Earlier this year he starred in Arsenal’s u19 Dallas Cup run to the final, saving crucial penalties against Manchester United to win the semis.
Hopefully there’s even more to come this year, but he looks a big talent.
It seems like it’s only a matter of time before Saka earns himself a regular starting spot in the u23 side. Despite just turning 17, he’s provided two assists and won a penalty in just 76 minutes for the top academy side from the bench this season.
Saka also recently made his England u18 debut, appearing at some stage in all three wins for his country over the international break. He scored the winner in England’s 2-1 victory over France.
A left-footed left-winger, Saka is a quick dribbler with a dangerous cross in his locker. He can certainly finish chances when they fall his way, but right now he spends more time out wide creating them. With any luck we’ll see him proving his ability in the first-team in the coming years.
Check out the video we made on his academy highlights so far in 2018/19:
The next star in the Arsenal academy? Bukayo Saka is set to sign professional terms, here are his highlights from the season so far.
— Dan Critchlow (@afcDW) September 7, 2018