Arsenal's pursuit of Saka backup proving to be Arteta's BIGGEST problem

Suraj Radia
Suraj Radia
  • 26 Jun 2024 04:00 CDT
  • 3 min read
Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring against Burnley for Arsenal in the Premier League
© IMAGO

Arsenal appear to have identified the perfect transfer to relieve the pressure on Bukayo Saka, with Mikel Arteta keen to bring in a backup right winger capable of covering for the England international.

Saka has played in 111 of Arsenal’s last 114 Premier League games and there have been fears that Arteta’s reliance on the 22-year-old could cause significant strain on his longevity.

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Part of Arteta’s reluctance to rotate Saka is the absence of a true alternative to a player that scored a career-high 16 league goals last season, which has led Arsenal to PSV star Johan Bakayoko, according to reports in the Netherlands.

READ MORE: Arteta faces Arsenal revolt over priority signing as Chelsea go ‘ALL-IN’ on hijack

Bakayoko grabbed 12 goals and nine assists last season, attracting the attention of Liverpool and Bayern Munich as well, but Arsenal’s interest is said to be the most concrete.

The 21-year-old would cost around €45 million, according to Dutch outlet GVA, and an approach could be made by Arsenal after the Belgian’s involvement in Euro 2024 comes to an end.

Bakayoko has only played 33 minutes in the Euros but could deputise for Belgium in their final group game, knowing that a positive performance could lead him to a major transfer this summer.

Johan Bakayoko has been a revelation for PSV.
© IMAGO - Johan Bakayoko has been a revelation for PSV.

Bakayoko transfer highlights Arteta’s tough task with Saka replacement

While Bakayoko’s eye for goal from right wing makes him a natural alternative to Saka, there is no guarantee that the forward would be willing to move to a club where he would, by all accounts, be considered a backup.

READ MORE: Premier League summer transfers 2024: All the Done Deals

Reiss Nelson is currently seen as the deputy to Saka but the 24-year-old made just one league start last campaign and is considering leaving the Emirates in search of more first team football despite only signing a new four-year contract last summer.

Compared
Player image Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka

AM (RL), M (R)

Arsenal logo

Arsenal

Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka

AM (RL), M (R)

Arsenal

Arsenal

VS

Player image Johan Bakayoko
Johan Bakayoko

AM (CRL)

PSV logo

PSV

Johan Bakayoko
Johan Bakayoko

AM (CRL)

PSV

PSV

2023/2024

Season Statistics

2023/2024

47 Appearances 48
20 Goals 14
13 Assists 14
3896 Minutes Played 3713
111 Key Passes 102
45 Shots On Target 52

That has perhaps been Arteta’s biggest struggle when seeking a backup for his talisman – trying to find a player of the same pedigree as Saka but also willing to accept that they may never oust him from the team.

Consequently, competition from other clubs could see Arsenal fall behind in the race for Bakayoko, with the PSV star likely to only consider moving to a club where he would be a starter, leaving the Gunners potentially still searching for the solution to their Saka conundrum.

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