In an otherwise abysmal year for Arsenal, the highs have been largely individual. Few players enjoyed a season quite like Bukayo Saka did, as the 19 year old went from promising young talent to penned-in starter/future star by the time the 20-21 Premier League season came to a close. For many, he is the front-runner for Arsenal Player of the Year and one of the few players whose job is safe entering next season.
Saka’s stellar season continued this week, as the young man received his first ever senior call-up to the England squad for the upcoming European Championship. The teen sensation can now add yet another feather in his cap, as he was named to the shortlist for the PFA Young Men’s Player of the year this morning. He was nominated alongside Manchester City’s Phil Foden, West Ham’s Declan Rice, Chelsea’s Mason Mount, Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood, and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, who won the award last season.
Bukayo Saka has been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award. pic.twitter.com/XwArbAGgtf— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) June 2, 2021
Not bad for a lad who can’t even buy a pint in the states yet.
Saka’s breakout became one of Arsenal’s lone bright spots this season. Playing practically every position save for keeper and center back, Saka made a name for himself with his silky dribbling, sneaky speed, and his unparalleled nose for the ball. He notched 7 goals and 6 assists across all competitions, none more enjoyable than his cross-turned-shot against Chelsea on Boxing Day. His influence on matches was impossible to miss. As his game began to take off, teams resorted to hacking the starlet to keep him from skinning their defenses in the final third. After all, in the PL, if you can’t beat them, you beat them.
The inclusion of both Saka and Emile Smith Rowe following Arsenal’s egregious run of form from October to late December helped right a fast-sinking ship, and while ultimately the Gunners fell short in the Europa League and the PL, Saka gave fans a reason to not totally abandon all hope.
The winner of the award will be announced on June 6th, but whether or not Saka wins the award is beside the point. He faces stiff competition from some truly promising talent, and every other nominated player is from a team that enjoyed more success in the league than the Gunners. Win or lose, the nomination is a testament to the incredible season that Saka put together. The future is bright for Bukayo Saka.