Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey has urged his high-flying team-mate, Bukayo Saka, to stick with the Gunners for years to come.
The youngster has reportedly attracted Liverpool’s interest, and Saka’s resolve could be tested if things do not go Arsenal’s way between now and the end of the season.
Saka’s breakthrough in north London came as a teenager back in 2019/20, when he showed genuine promise, even if his output underwhelmed. He improved however in 2020/21.
England boss Gareth Southgate then took him to Euro 2020, and the 20-year-old has shown tremendous character to bounce back after his penalty was saved in the final shootout against Italy.
Saka had a part to play in all three goals as Arsenal battled past Watford on Sunday afternoon, in a game of blockbuster goals.
The diminutive winger set up Martin Odegaard before lashing into the net on the half-hour mark, and his quick throw-in preceded Gabriel Martinelli’s well-taken goal which gave the Gunners breathing room.
With eight Premier League goals for the season and five assists to boot, it was another Man of the Match display from the youngster, who was again the centre of attention after the full-time whistle.
Liverpool are believed to be sniffing around with the view to launching a summer swoop, but Partey has gone public with a plea for Saka to stay put at his boyhood club.
“We all know what he is doing,” he said.
“He is one of the best young players in the world now. I think he is doing a great job.
“I hope he stays with us for a long time and does what he can, and tries to take this team far.”
Indeed, only Bayer Leverkusen startlet Florian Wirtz has more goal contributions than Saka when compared to all other under-21 players in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues this season.
Champions League qualification could therefore prove crucial for the Gunners if they are to keep hold of such a coveted talent when the transfer window swings open in the summer.
After a dismal start to the season which saw them lose three straight league games without scoring, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has inspired a remarkable turnaround.
They currently occupy fourth spot with games in hand on most of the chasing pack.
A home tie against Leicester City awaits next time out, and Arteta joined Partey in praising Saka as his blistering run of form continues.
“What he is already doing is phenomenal and he needs that room,” declared Arteta on Sunday. “Don’t read too much, do what you do.
“Football is his priority in life and you can see that every day in training and he needs to continue to behave and live the way that he is doing.”