Former Arsenal defender Ashley Cole has expressed his fears over Bukayo Saka not fulfilling his potential because Mikel Arteta keeps chopping and changing his position.
The Englishman has featured in three different positions in his last three games. He started as a right-winger against Villarreal, at left-back against West Brom and as a right wing-back against Chelsea last night.
To be fair to the teenager, he has impressed in every position he has played in. Saka has been Arsenal’s shining light, but Cole believes he may never become a ‘top, top player’ unless he nails down a single position.
Ashley Cole: Bukayo Saka may never become a top player
He said on Sky Sports before the game yesterday: “I think he’s a shining light in this Arsenal team. He plays with courage, fearless at times. But I just feel when you don’t cement down one position, it’s very, very difficult to nail that trade down to become a top, top player.
“As a manager you love it, because he’s adaptable, he can play in three or four positions, which is brilliant. But I just feel for him at times, because he’s kind of used and abused.
“I like him from the right but not as a wing-back. I like to see him in the attacking areas, where he can cut in on his left foot, combine and he’s got that smart little movement to get in behind with his pace as well.”
The Insider’s View:
Out of Saka’s 44 appearances for Arsenal this season, 21 have come on the right flank. Over 82% of his goal contributions have come from there as well, which shows that the right-wing is his best position.
However, versatility is not a bad thing. Although Saka started as a wing-back last night, he was high up when we had possession, just like Kieran Tierney on the opposite side.
Cole certainly has a point about Arteta constantly changing Saka’s position. However, the young Englishman is already a top player, and he will only get better in the coming years, even if he is used in multiple areas of the pitch.