Ian Wright says there is something “fundamentally wrong” at Arsenal for Bukayo Saka to continue getting picked in the side.
The 19-year-old has been ever-present for the Gunners this season, making 11 appearances in all competitions, with only three players having played more.
Saka’s absence was clearly noticeable during Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Leeds, as Arsenal struggled to create any real chances prior to his introduction as a sub before the hour.
The youngster had started on the bench after a busy international period, where he had featured in all three of England’s fixtures, and Wright feels Saka would be due a break were it not for Arsenal’s problems.
“He’s our most creative player at 19,” the ex-Gunners forward told the Wrighty’s House podcast.
“When you look at it like that, there’s something fundamentally wrong when he has to play so frequently to help a team like Arsenal to win.
“Even more so when we look at Mesut Ozil not being able to get a squad number.
“We’re asking an 19-year-old to come off the bench, he’s just played three games for England, and now he’s injured. That’s too much pressure already.”
Saka only broke into Arsenal’s senior squad last season but is already a key member of Mikel Arteta’s team.
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His manager is all too aware of the risks of over-exposing Saka to first-team action though, having already expressed his fears of burnout.
“Obviously, he’s a 19-year-old kid and he’s played a lot of football in the last few months and we have to protect him,” Arteta said last week.
Saka is hardly complaining about the amount of opportunities he is getting at senior level however.
“It’s a lot of minutes but as a kid this is what you dream of,” he told the Independent. “I just have to trust the people in charge will manage me in the correct way and continue to help me thrive and progress as a player.”
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And Arteta seemingly has little other options but to play him, given Arsenal have not scored once from open play in their last five Premier League fixtures.
While Wright’s words will serve as a stark warning, it was only days ago the pundit was urging for Saka to be included in every game.
After Saka was subbed back off against Leeds, Wright said: “Hopefully he’s not too bad with the injury because we need him. You can see that. We need that guy.”