Freddie Ljungberg says that whilst he’s happy with Bukayo Saka’s output in front of goal, he’s also pleased to see the winger improving without the ball as well.
Saka scored a couple of goals in Arsenal’s 5-1 victory over Manchester City on Monday, bringing him to seven goals and eight assists in just 13 academy starts this season. That’s particularly impressive considering he’s almost entirely been playing for the u23s, having only made his debut at that level back in August.
To step up from the u18s to the u23s without any trouble, and then to impress for the first-team as well not long later, just shows how talented the young winger is. The fact he could be playing in the FA Youth Cup on Thursday, a couple of weeks after making his Premier League debut, highlights how early he’s making his breakthrough.
U23 coach Freddie Ljungberg is most impressed with Saka’s willingness to learn and improve all aspects of his game.
“All of the players are taking steps and I’m very happy with him,” Ljungberg said on Arsenal.com. “He (Saka) had some really good moments where he killed off the angles for their wingers and fullbacks too, so he’s learning all the time. I’m very happy with him.
“I told Bukayo ‘That’s a lovely goal [after his second strike], but the main thing was what you did just before’. He backed off and covered the angles really well, so I told him that’s really difficult and it’s really good for him to do that.
“I’m trying to show them that it’s not just about goals, it’s about the other stuff as well. He did well and it was a compliment!”
Hopefully, Saka will get more chances to prove himself at senior level this season. Arsenal are lacking wingers in his mould, and the alternatives in the first team right now are underperforming anyway.