Bukayo Saka has revealed he had trials at Tottenham and Chelsea as a youngster but Arsenal were ‘always in his heart’, with the presence of Arsene Wenger having a big say on his decision.
The 20-year-old is enjoying an excellent campaign – netting six times and laying on four assists in 18 Premier League starts this season – and his impressive performances have earned him a regular place in the England team.
Saka is one of a number of players who came through Arsenal’s Hale End academy before making the grade in the first team, though he was chased by a host of London clubs when he was younger.
Asked how close he came to being a Tottenham player, Saka laughed and told Sky Sports: ‘I remember one session, and I don’t think I went to another one.
‘But, yeah, I think it was just to go and try different clubs but we always had Arsenal in our hearts.’
Asked who else tried to sign him as a youngster, Saka continued: ‘There was Arsenal, Chelsea I was at for a bit, there was Watford, there was Tottenham.
‘I think there was maybe two more but those are the ones that I can remember from the top of my head.
‘Arsenal was the one I always wanted to go to. It seemed like they had a lot of faith in their youth and there was a clear pathway.
‘You could see the players coming up from Hale End to London Colney, and my dad also really believed in the project and he loved Arsene Wenger a lot.
‘So I think Arsenal was the club in the hearts of my family so we chose them.’
On playing against Spurs at academy level, Saka added: ‘Yeah I do remember – we used to beat them a lot! We used to beat them because we had a really good academy. Tottenham was obviously a good game but we’d normally beat them.
‘I’d say my favourite one was probably the FA Youth Cup game, I think we were losing 1-0 or 2-0 and we came back and I scored a really good goal, powered it into the near post, top corner. I think it even touched the crossbar a bit, I don’t know for sure, but it was a very good goal and I went to the Tottenham fans and celebrated, so it was nice.’