Bukayo Saka says the chance to wear the number seven for Arsenal is an exciting development, rather than one that adds pressure.
Bukayo Saka dropped the second seven from his shirt number this week, switching from 77 to seven. It was obviously a big show of belief from Arsenal, giving a single-digit shirt number to an 18-year-old.
The fans tend to put a lot of importance on shirt numbers. They see it as a way of connecting current players with those from their history, like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking over 14 from Thierry Henry, or Kieran Tierney following in the footsteps of all the other left-backs to wear three for the club.
Sky Sports asked Saka whether that adds pressure on him to perform to the high standards set by the likes of Robert Pires in the past.
“If a club is going to give you the number seven at such a young age, it shows how much they believe in you,” Saka said. “That gives me a lot of confidence. I wouldn’t say it brings pressure on me.
“The only pressure, for me, that I feel is myself. That pressure that I put on myself to make a difference in games and stuff like that. I don’t think the number is going to really add a lot of pressure.
“It’s so exciting, you know. It’s just the stuff that you dream of. The number seven, the legends before that have worn it. It’s such an honour to be given that by Arsenal.”
Is Saka a confidence player?
I wouldn’t say Saka strikes me as a player ready to crumble under pressure. In the youth teams, he always rose to the occasion in the big games.
He scored a vital goal in the North London derby that effectively won the u18s the title last season, as wells as scoring twice to knock Spurs out of the FA Youth Cup. He bagged a brace in the u18 Premier League play-off final, even though Arsenal were awful.
Then you look at how he stepped up to the senior side. There’s no sense of him failing to rise to the occasion, having an excellent first full season with plenty of big moments.
There were his vital goals and assists in Frankfurt and Liege when Arsenal couldn’t buy away results. His assists at Old Trafford and Anfield, his goal and assist against Wolves and Leicester City. Four goals and 12 assists as an 18-year-old. He just needs to keep it up!