Football

Mikel Arteta hails teen star Bukayo Saka’s ‘leadership’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says Bukayo Saka possesses leadership qualities beyond his years after the teenage winger produced another impressive performance in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 3-1 win at Southampton.

The 19-year-old scored in the first half and assisted Alexandre Lacazette's close-range effort in the second to help secure the victory that lifted Arsenal to eighth.

Nicolas Pepe scored Arsenal's other goal as they fought back after Stuart Armstrong's third-minute opener for the Saints, who knocked them out of the FA Cup last Saturday.

"He's really humble, respectful and at the same time has that character to demand the ball, to make decisions that are not very usual for his age," said Arteta.

"We need that leadership and he's gaining that with his attitude.

"He's all the time asking to train more to improve in areas that he can do better. That was certainly one, producing the final bit in the box to score or assist.

"If he's able to do that with the intelligence that he has, with the work rate that he shows on the pitch and with the capacity that he has to understand the game in different positions, then he becomes a really different player."

Arteta said midfielders Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey would be assessed ahead of Sunday morning's home game against Manchester United after being substituted due to "discomfort".

Arsenal are on 30 points, five behind West Ham United in fourth place, the final automatic Champions League spot.

Meanwhile, the Gunners yesterday signed Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan until the end of the season. Said Arteta: "Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we're all excited." - REUTERS

Football