Robin van Persie thinks he saw a hint of Dennis Bergkamp in the way Bukayo Saka set up Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Olympiacos.
Van Persie watched on from the BT Sport studio as Saka set up Arsenal’s winning goal on Thursday night. The young left-back found some space on the left-hand side and slipped a low pass into Lacazette to tap home an easy finish.
At first glance, the cross didn’t seem to be anything too special. Van Persie thinks it deserves a lot more credit than that though.
“That type of pass is like from Ryan Giggs, Dennis Bergkamp, Paul Scholes. Ordering your striker to move into that danger zone, it’s world-class,” van Persie said.
“This is not simple but he makes it look easy. Only the great players can make those passes. This is a pass with an idea, with intent, and this is what you want from your players.
“He’s really taken his chance and it’s nice to see a young kid really grab his chance. To play for his future and do it so well.”
If you want a recap, you can watch the goal back here, from 3:44.
To an extent, you can see what van Persie means. It wasn’t just a simple pass to a player in space. Saka had to anticipate Lacazette’s movement, then find the gap between the goalkeeper and the defender.
Play it too close to the keeper, it’s an easy save. If it’s too close to the defender, it’s an easy clearance. Too slow and anyone can run over and block it, but too fast and Lacazette can’t get to it in time.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean Saka has the passing ability of the great players listed above. But he played this pass as they would.