Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has explained the reason behind Bukayo Saka’s incredible rise at the Gunners and for England after speaking with the winger at London Colney.

Parlour bumped into Saka while at Arsenal’s training ground recently and was astounded by the 22-year-old’s attitude. Mikel Arteta had given the Gunners’ first-team players the day off but Saka chose to be at London Colney. He wanted to work on his fitness and to keep active.

It is because of his dedication that Parlour believes Saka has become a ‘massive player’ with Arsenal and England. The 28-cap gem has now set the Gunners’ new record for consecutive Premier League appearances. He eclipsed Paul Merson’s record that stood for over 26 years.

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring vs Nottingham Forest in Premier League
Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

Why Pele Is Overrated.

Bukayo Saka now holds Arsenal’s record for consecutive Premier League games

Merson played in 82 consecutive Premier League games for Arsenal between February 1995 and February 1997. Saka has now featured in 84 successive games since May 2021. He has also started in 80 of those fixtures, whilst further registering 27 goals and 20 assists, as well.

Only goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (3,420) and centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes (3,411) played more minutes for Arsenal in the Premier League last term than Saka (3,194), too. He already has 359 minutes in his account this season, plus two goals and one assist across four starts.

Bukayo Saka has won back-to-back England Player of the Year awards

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder James Maddison gifts Bukayo Saka the England Men's Player of the Year 2022/23 award of Arsenal forward's birthday
Photo by Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Saka’s excellence also extends onto the international stage with the Arsenal forward winning back-to-back England Player of the Year awards. James Maddison presented the Hale Ender with his 2022/23 trophy on his 22nd birthday this Monday. He also got the gong in 2021/22.

Only Harry Kane outscored Saka between the September international breaks in 2022 and 2023. The striker had eight goals and assisted a further four through 11 games. While Saka fired home seven times and assisted a further three through 10 games in the same period.

Ray Parlour outlines the reason behind Bukayo Saka’s incredible rise

Now, Parlour has outlined how Saka’s dedication not only makes the England talent a player who rival fans can also love, but a ‘massive’ player for Arsenal and for his country at just 22.

“He is a massive player for both, Arsenal and England,” Parlour told talkSPORT. “He never gets injured, he is always playing, he is always fit to play. He is a real grounded young man who’s always smiling [and] enjoys his football.

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka in action vs Manchester United in Premier League
Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

“So, he has been an absolute revelation for Arsenal, especially. [It is the] little things like, I went to the training ground not so long ago and every single player had the day off. But he was in because he said he wanted to do a little bit of a warm down, get my legs going again.

“He was on a bike and he didn’t have to be there. That’s the sort of professional he is to say, ‘Look, I want to go in and look after myself’. And that’s why he plays every week because he does look after himself. He’s young, as well, and he’s just a fine, young man.

“Every single person likes him. Even if you are a neutral and you do not even like Arsenal, both people take to people like Saka as he is always smiling. He is always doing the best he can. Whether it is [for] Arsenal and England, he always wants to put a performance in.”

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