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19 August 2022

Mikel Arteta ‘very confident’ Bukayo Saka will sign new Arsenal deal

19 August 2022

Mikel Arteta is “very confident” that England forward Bukayo Saka will sign a new deal at Arsenal sooner rather than later.

The 20-year-old has two years remaining on his current contract at the Emirates Stadium and continues to be a vital part of Arteta’s side.

Saka finished as Arsenal’s top goal-scorer last season as he rose above the racist abuse he suffered after missing the deciding penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

Having joined the academy aged seven, Saka made his first-team debut under head coach Unai Emery in 2019 but has flourished under Arteta.

Asked about a new deal for Saka, the Spaniard replied: “I am very confident that we as a club and Bukayo, his family, his agent, everybody, we are very much aligned in what we want to achieve. And now it is about putting it on a piece of paper.”

With the new season under way and the prospect of Saka playing in the World Cup in Qatar this winter, Arteta is also keen for the player to put pen to paper as soon as possible.

“I would like that to get done,” he added.

I am very confident that we as a club and Bukayo, his family, his agent, everybody, we are very much aligned in what we want to achieve

“I don’t want the player or anybody distracted while we are in the middle of the season. But those things take time and they have to go through the right process, and I think the process has been really good.”

Saka is expected to keep his place in the Arsenal side that travel to face Bournemouth on Saturday evening, Arteta having named an unchanged XI for the opening two games of the season.

His reign as Arsenal boss began with a 1-1 draw at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day 2019 – his first job in management – and he admits he has changed plenty since then.

“It was raining, I got very wet,” he said.

“I was excited, nervous and very much looking forward to what was coming, but it feels a long time ago.

“(I have changed) very much, I think.

Mikel Arteta made his managerial debut at Bournemouth in December 2019 (Mark Kerton/PA). (PA Archive)

“I think the team and the club need a certain person in each phase and in each moment. The coach or the manager that the club needed a year ago is different to what it needs today.

“You have to constantly be evolving, now we have to thrive, this club at a different speed and before we had to have a lot of protection to keep us in the right place and not fall apart.

“This is evolving. We as individuals, especially the people who have a lot of decision-making and need to inspire others, have to evolve and change as well.”

His team that day contained four players still at the club but only two that are likely to be involved this time around, with Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson named alongside Saka.

Asked if his team were now a ‘Mikel Arteta’ side, he replied: “It was from the first day because I made the decision to come here and coach those players and I always felt they were our players.

“We always tried to get the best out of them, help them and try to improve them. Obviously when you then recruit you want to recruit alongside the club the players who you can feel can make the difference.”

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