EPL

Arteta unsure if Arsenal can keep Saka without Champions League football amid Liverpool links

By Sports Desk February 10, 2022

Mikel Arteta says he is hopeful that Arsenal can convince Bukayo Saka to stay at the club even if they fail to finish in the Premier League's top four this season.

Saka's current deal at the Emirates Stadium reportedly expires in 2024, with the club eager for him to sign a new one.

However, reports have linked the 20-year-old with a move to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, and the player himself has expressed his desire to play in the Champions League.

Saka recently told Sky Sports: "I think the Champions League creates so many special nights and it’s a dream for me still to experience one of them and hopefully many more of them."

At a media conference ahead of Thursday's trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, when asked if the club needed Champions League football to keep hold of their star youngster, Arteta replied: "I don’t know. It’s a conversation we’re going to have with the player internally and then with his environment, his agent, his family, who are going to be extremely important, so everybody is on board.

"Obviously, our desire is to keep Bukayo as long as possible because we are really happy, he’s part of our club, he’s our DNA, he’s growing, he’s maturing, his importance in the team is unquestionable and we want to keep our best talent at the club, that’s for sure."

Arsenal currently sit sixth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed West Ham but with three games in hand.

Saka has emerged as a key player for the Gunners, having played the most games in all competitions at the club so far this season (26), while only Emile Smith Rowe (nine) has scored more than his seven goals.

No-one has created more than the England international's 40 chances, and he has created eight big chances, whereby a team-mate would be expected to score, which is three more than the next highest (Martin Odegaard, five).

Arteta also outlined the balance Arsenal must find between allowing opportunities for their best young talents, while also strengthening the team with big signings.

"Here there are two things. It’s trying to build a squad that you have room for those players to develop, and the other one is to have those players developing when we are extremely competitive," he added.

"Because if you sign three top players, and then those kids start not playing, what happens? You cannot have it both ways. If you sign big players, with big money, the money has to be on the pitch – which means that these players are not going to be on the pitch.

"So we need to find the balance, but with the standards that this club requires, which is to be the best. This is what we are trying to do, but without killing what is growing."

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    A post shared by Tottenham Hotspur (@spursofficial)

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