Bukayo Saka's New Arsenal Contract Provides Much Needed Boost for Depleted Gunners

Arsenal's contract dealings have come under a great deal of scrutiny of late - and quite rightly as well.

Extending the high earning David Luiz's deal, days after he put in one of the worst Premier League performances of all time against Manchester City was difficult to defend, even for the most optimistic advocates of the unpredictable Brazilian.

Arsenal's last minute defeat to Brighton will have frustrated Gunners fans

Similarly, gifting Cedric Soares a four-year contract when the Portuguese has made just 20 league appearance over the past two season - none of which were for Arsenal - attracted the ire of many Gunners fans.

It's not just the club's recent dealings that have come under the spotlight either. Mesut Ozil is currently getting paid £350,000-per-week to sit under an umbrella on the Arsenal bench.

Meanwhile, former fan favourite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the list of players whose careers have taken off after leaving Arsenal, by securing his maiden Premier League with Liverpool title last month. Yet another crushing blow.

On the pitch, things haven't been much better. After being confidently dispatched by City, a gut-wrenching last minute defeat to Brighton means that only a minor miracle will see Arsenal end their wait for Champions League football next season.

Amid all of this drudgery, the news that Bakayo Saka had agreed to extend his contract at the Emirates Stadium is a massive and well-needed boost for Mikel Arteta, who has been fighting an uphill battle to turn the club around since taking over from Unai Emery earlier this season.

Bukayo Saka celebrates his maiden Arsenal goal against Eintracht Frankfurt

The fact that the 18-year-old Saka was even considering not re-signing for his boyhood club is a sad indication of Arsenal's current stock in the footballing world. However, that doesn't matter now. What does matter is that Saka has at last agreed a long-term extension with the Gunners and Arteta has a vital piece of his rebuilding jigsaw tied down.

The full-back/wing-back/forward's breakthrough has been the most encouraging story of Arsenal's season. Bursting onto the scene with two assists and a fine goal against Eintracht Frankfurt back in September, he has since emerged as one the Gunners' star performers - and a fan favourite to boot.

Starting life as a left winger, he was given a baptism of fire in the art of defending when an injury crisis saw him shoehorned at left-back against Manchester City over Christmas. Though Arsenal lost the game 3-0, Saka performed admirably - once again representing a bright spot in an otherwise murky performance.

With Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac now fully fit, the post-shutdown period has seen him return to more familiar forward territory, dipping his toe into an attacking midfield role against Brighton recently.

In many ways though, Saka's on-field contributions are secondary to what his new deal represents off the pitch. Arsenal are no longer an elite club - that is plain to see. But if a player such a Saka was to leave, they would cease to look like a side at which young players feel they can develop. And if they are neither of those two things, what exactly are they? Mid-table plodders? Heaven forbid.

With Saka on board, the Gunners have sent a strong message to the Premier League clubs that were attempting to lure him away. They may not be what they once were but with the wonderkid on board their odds of closing the gap have just got a lot shorter.

Source : 90min