Bukayo Saka has burst onto the scene in recent years as one of the most exciting young talents in English football. At just 21 years old, he has already established himself as a key player for both Arsenal and the England national team.
Saka’s versatility, technical ability and intelligence on the ball have marked him out as a potential superstar of the future. He has shown maturity beyond his years to consistently influence matches and has proven himself capable of delivering on the biggest stages.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into the life and career so far of Bukayo Saka. We will look at his background, how he rose through the Arsenal academy into the first team, his accomplishments so far, as well as his playing style and strengths on the pitch.
Bukayo Saka’s Early Life and Background
Bukayo Saka was born on 5 September 2001 in Ealing, London to Nigerian parents. From a young age, he showed a keen interest in football and joined his first academy at the age of seven with Greenford Celtic.
Saka then spent two years with Arsenal’s Hale End academy from the age of eight before moving to join Watford’s academy in 2014 at the age of 12. However, after just one season with Watford, Arsenal swooped to re-sign Saka into their academy once again.
Throughout his development in the Arsenal youth ranks, Saka consistently stood out as one of the top talents. He represented Arsenal at various age group levels and was part of the side that reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals in 2018.
His technical qualities, intelligence and work rate marked him out as a hot prospect within the Arsenal academy. After signing his first professional contract in 2018, he was regularly training with the first team by the age of 17.
Breakthrough into the Arsenal First Team
Saka continued his development with Arsenal’s Under-23 side during the 2018/19 season, but was handed his first team debut by Unai Emery in a Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava in November 2018 at the age of 17.
Over the next year, Saka gradually became more involved with the first team setup at Arsenal. His versatility to play anywhere down the left side of the pitch proved useful, and he made his Premier League debut against Fulham in January 2019.
The 2019/20 season was when Saka truly announced himself and broke into the first team. He made 40 appearances across all competitions and contributed 4 goals and 11 assists. His standout performances saw him named as Arsenal’s Player of the Season.
Since then, Saka has gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet. In the 2021/22 season, he was Arsenal’s top scorer with 12 goals and made the PFA Team of the Year.
At just 21 years old, Saka has already made over 150 appearances for Arsenal and has become a key player under manager Mikel Arteta. His consistently high-level performances at such a young age highlight his enormous potential.
England National Team Call-Up
Saka’s rapid rise with Arsenal soon caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate. He was handed his first England call-up in September 2020 for matches against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.
At the delayed Euro 2020 tournament in 2021, Saka truly announced himself on the international stage. He started five of England’s seven matches and contributed 4 assists, reaching the final of the tournament.
Despite the heartbreak of losing the final on penalties to Italy, Saka impressed throughout and proved he could perform on the biggest stages. He has continued as a regular member of the England squad since then and already has 20 caps to his name at 21.
Saka is regarded as one of the bright young stars of this England generation. Alongside players like Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham, Saka represents the future of the national team for years to come.
Playing Style and Strengths
So what makes Bukayo Saka such an exciting talent? Let’s take a look at some of his key attributes:
Versatility – One of Saka’s biggest strengths is his versatility to play in several positions. He is capable of playing anywhere down the left flank as a full back, wing back, winger or inverted winger. This versatility makes him an extremely useful squad player.
Dribbling – Saka is an excellent dribbler, able to glide past defenders with ease. He has quick feet, close control and can go down the outside or inside. This dribbling ability allows him to create space and chances in the final third.
Delivery – Saka’s end product is fantastic for someone so young. He has consistently provided assists with his accurate crosses and cutbacks. Saka also poses a goal threat cutting inside to shoot with his right foot.
Work rate – Despite his technical brilliance, Saka also works extremely hard off the ball. He presses intensely and tracks back to protect his fullback. This work rate is just as valuable as his attacking qualities.
Decision making – Saka reads the game intelligently for a 21-year-old. He makes smart decisions on when to pass, dribble or shoot and rarely wastes possession. This maturity and game intelligence is rare and points to a very high ceiling.
Overall, Saka’s blend of technical qualities, intelligence, versatility and work rate is the profile of a potential world class player in the making. His ability to influence games so young only points to an extremely bright future ahead.
Career Achievements and Milestones
Despite still being only 21, Saka has already achieved some significant accomplishments:
- Made over 150 appearances for Arsenal by age 21
- Became a regular starter for Arsenal in 2019/20 season aged 18
- Won Arsenal Player of the Season award in 2019/20
- Named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for 2021/22
- Won Arsenal’s Player of the Month award 4 times (a club record)
- Scored vital equalizing penalty against Chelsea in 2020 FA Cup Final, helping Arsenal to eventual win
- Reached final of Euro 2020 with England at age 19
- Has represented England over 20 times since first call-up in 2020
Saka has achieved more by 21 than most players do in their whole career. The sky seems to be the limit for what he could go on to achieve given his talent and rapid development so far.
He will undoubtedly be targeting more team honors with Arsenal and England, plus eventual inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year and nominations for major individual awards like the Ballon d’Or could be in his sights over the next decade.
Net Worth and Endorsements
Having already established himself as one of England’s biggest rising stars, Bukayo Saka has built considerable net worth for someone so young. His current net worth is estimated to be approximately £5 million.
The majority of this wealth has come through his playing contracts with Arsenal. After breaking into the first team, he signed a long-term deal in 2020 reportedly worth around £30,000 per week. As one of Arsenal’s star players now, this deal has likely been improved since then.
In addition to his Arsenal salary, Saka also earns extra income through various endorsements and sponsorships. Major brands like Nike, EE and Renault have signed sponsorship deals to associate themselves with Saka early in his career.
As his profile continues to grow, especially after starring for England at Euro 2020, Saka’s sponsorship and endorsement earnings are likely to rapidly increase. He has the potential to become one of the highest paid English players commercially within the next few years.
Overall, Bukayo Saka has already earned life-changing money before his 22nd birthday. But given his ability and potential, this is likely just the start for him. The sky is the limit for how much he could eventually be worth.
Despite his rapid rise to fame, Bukayo Saka remains extremely grounded and humble. He still lives at home with his parents and attributes much of his success to their support.
Saka comes from a close-knit Nigerian family and speaks proudly of his parents’ immigrant background. He says their work ethic and high standards motivated him throughout his football journey.
Away from football, Saka tries to lead a quiet life focused on resting and recovering between matches. He is Muslim and abstains from drinking alcohol. His closest friends are his childhood mates from before he became famous.
When it comes to relationships, Saka likes to keep that side of his life very private. There are no reports of him dating anyone publicly at the moment. For now, he seems focused solely on his football career.
On the pitch, Saka is regarded as a model professional with an excellent attitude. He works hard, listens to coaches attentively and sets an example to teammates. Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has praised Saka’s character and humility.