Bukayo Saka positional switch unerringly similar to rise of Gareth Bale

Despite being just 19 years of age, Bukayo Saka has already established himself as a first-team regular at the Emirates Stadium and you'd be hard pressed to find an Arsenal supporter who isn't in complete awe of him.

He made his Premier League debut at 17 during a 4-1 win over Fulham under Unai Emery in January 2019 and since then, he's never looked back. To date, Saka has played 45 times in the top-flight, contributing six goals and seven assists.

His versatility and willingness to take on other roles in the side has demonstrated his football intelligence, as well as giving him the opportunity to play plenty of football - which is key for a player who despite looking as accomplished as most, is still very much in the developmental phase of his career.

Saka has played as a left-back, left-midfielder, left-winger, central attacking-midfielder and as a right-winger until now. However, his recent displays have highlighted he can have the most influence in the Arsenal side playing from the right flank.

Often, a player as versatile as Saka can suffer from not having a clearly defined position. How does that old saying go? You can become known as 'a jack of all trades and master of none'. In fact, you could argue that has been the case for his Arsenal and England teammate Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has repeatedly made it clear he feels his best position is in the centre of midfield. However, the majority of his first-team appearances have come playing as a full-back.

Being a predominately left-footed player, playing from the right allows Saka to cut inside onto his stronger foot and attack the penalty area but his pace and the variety in his game also allows him to take the full-back down the flank, making him extremely unpredictable and effective.

Bukayo Saka has scored four goals and provided two assists in his last six Premier League appearances | Pool/Getty Images

Judging by his assist for Alexandre Lacazette's goal against Southampton, for which he used his right foot to put a delicious cross into the penalty area on the volley, Saka is confident using both feet, making him extremely difficult to defend against.

As such, the young England star could go on to emulate some of the game's greats who have successfully made the switch from one flank to the other. Inverted wingers are a far more common sight in the modern game and with the tendency of full-backs to make over lapping runs more frequently than ever, it could be argued that it's more important to have the ability to cut in field onto your stronger foot.

Previous examples of players who made the transition successfully include Gareth Bale, who began his career as a left-back, before progressing forward into a left-wing role before switching to the right. Having made the switch, the Welsh international went on to score 76 goals and provide 54 assists in 186 appearances (via Transfermarkt) from that position and he's a prime example of somebody who was able to impact the game more by cutting inside.

The same can be said of Arjen Robben, the Dutchman who went on to become iconic when it comes to inverted wingers. The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich star is another great example of somebody who at his best was unstoppable, despite playing on what would have historically been described as his 'wrong side'.

It seems based on what we've seen so far, Saka has the temperament and the talent to emulate the aforementioned Premier League greats - so in the words of Josh Kroenke, "Be excited".

Saka signed a long-term contract with the club as recently as July 2020, and is understandably seen by the club's supporters and Mikel Arteta as a key figure in Arsenal's future. At this pojnt, there is no reason why he can't go on to reach hero status in north London.

Mikel Arteta, like Unai Emery before him has had no problem putting his trust in this young man | Michael Steele/Getty Images

As impressive as he was on the left, however, it's impossible to deny that he has taken his game up another level since being deployed on the right-flank. He's played there regularly since the win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, scoring four times and providing two assists in six Premier League fixtures.

Don't underestimate the significance of his footballing education to date in his seamless transition from the left side to the right, but his recent form will have convinced Arteta of where exactly his best position is.

Source : 90min