Alexandre Lacazette believes Arsenal prospect, Bukayo Saka, has a claim to being the Premier League’s best young player after breaking into the Gunners’ first-team.
Saka, 18, has been a revelation for Arsenal this term, playing 26 times across all competitions having enjoyed an eye-catching pre-season.
Predominantly a winger, Saka has been used at full-back recently and taken to the new role with impressive ease, remaining a useful outlet despite operating from slightly further back.
The England youth international has less than 18 months left on his Arsenal contract and Mikel Arteta has previously spoken of his desire to tie his most promising youngsters down to long-term deals.
And Lacazette spoke glowingly of the teenager – who became the youngest player to assist in consecutive Premier League appearances since Francis Jeffers in 1999 when he teed up Eddie Nketiah’s equaliser in the 3-2 win over Everton on Sunday – ahead of Thursday’s Europa League last-32 second leg against Olympiacos, with the Gunners 1-0 up from their first meeting in Piraeus.
“He’s really good,” Lacazette told reporters in a news conference. “I think he is maybe the best young player in the league.
“He needs to improve in a few things, but we can see the quality he has, and he’s humble – this is the best thing, I think, for him.
“He is really humble, he wants to work and accepts criticism because he wants to improve.”
When asked what makes Saka the league’s best young player, Lacazette replied: “Why is Saka the best? It’s simple, his quality. He has a good left foot and, because he’s humble, it’s there for him to improve.”
Saka made his full debut for Arsenal in the Europa League last season, and has now played 29 times for the club in all competitions.
Given England’s relative lack of depth at left-back, he may find himself in contention for Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2020.
For now, Saka will be focused on the Gunners’ home game with Olympiacos on Thursday, followed by an FA Cup clash at Portsmouth on Monday evening.
Arsenal then have league fixtures with West Ham, Brighton and Southampton as they look to maintain their challenge on the European qualification places.