Forget Mo Salah and Rodrygo - Bukayo Saka is the best right winger in the world!

Bukayo Saka England 2023 HIC 16:9
The Arsenal and England winger is setting new standards this season for club and country

Gareth Southgate bit his lip when he was asked after England’s 2-0 win against Ukraine whether there was any other right winger in the world who is playing at the level of Bukayo Saka right now.

“I’m not going to get drawn into where he sits in world football,” Southgate laughed. “That would start to put us in danger of doing all the things that we shouldn’t be doing with him. 

“He’s progressing brilliantly and he’s a joy to work with. We should leave it at that.”

It was as diplomatic a response as you would expect from someone like Southgate. 

But in all honesty, he could have just said that Saka is at the top of the world pile right now because no-one would have argued with him.

Mohamed Salah can step aside, so can the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Rodrygo. Saka is currently the best right winger on the planet. It’s that simple.

  1. Special Saka

    Special Saka

    What Saka’s doing for Arsenal this season and what he did for England on Sunday against Ukraine is all the evidence you need to back up that statement.

    And while Southgate was probably right not to say it out loud, he doesn’t really need to worry about praise going to Saka’s head because the 21-year-old is not the type of player to let that happen.

    That’s what makes him so special. He has the world at his feet and he knows it, but he’ll just take it all in his stride, as he always does.

    “His hunger and his humility is what’s got him on a good path,” Southgate said.

    “He has all the attributes to continue to improve and learn because that’s how he’s wired and I don’t see that changing with how he is and with how his family are.”

  2. 'He plays with real belief'

    'He plays with real belief'

    Saka’s goal against Ukraine at Wembley was one of a player brimming with confidence.

    It was his eighth goal for his country. Only four players – Dixie Dean (16), Jimmy Greaves (16), Wayne Rooney (12) and Michael Owen (10) – have scored more for England at the time of his current age (21 years, 202 days).

    When you consider he has done that while playing as a winger, that makes the achievement even more remarkable.

    Saka now has four goals in his last six games for his country. He is delivering almost every time he pulls on the Three Lions shirt.

    “When he’s in front of goal now he plays with real belief,” Southgate said after the victory over Ukraine. “That’s evident with his club and it’s evident with the games for us.

    “You’re expecting him to score now when he goes through. I think that’s been a mentality shift as much as it’s anything technical.

    "I think he knows to be a really top wide player he needs goals and assists and without doubt he’s delivered that this season.”

  3. A big-game player

    A big-game player

    There has been a definite change in Saka this season. He has taken on far more responsibility for Arsenal.

    He may be still to turn 22, but he has already firmly established himself as one of the leaders in Mikel Arteta’s side.

    The Hale End academy graduate has scored 13 goals in all competitions so far for the Gunners and prior to his brace against Crystal Palace immediately before the international break, every single one of them had either been a goal to put his side on front, or an equaliser.

    That shows he has consistently stepped up in the big moments when his side has needed him this season and for a player so young to be doing that so consistently, it shows the level that he is now operating at.

    "We obviously have individuals that excel to be at the level that we want," Arteta said after Saka's man of the match-winning performance against Palace earlier this month.

    "But Bukayo was really, really good again, affecting the result with his contribution, especially in the opponent’s box. I’m really happy [with him].”

  4. Player of the season?

    Player of the season?

    Many expect Erling Haaland to bag all the individual awards when they are handed out come the end of the season because of the sheer volume of goals he has scored for Manchester City.

    But there is a strong argument that, based purely on all-round performance, Saka has been the stand out performer in the Premier League this year.

    He has been directly involved in 23 goals in his last 34 appearances for club and country, scoring 16 goals while setting up a further seven. Those are incredible numbers for a 21-year-old winger.

    “I am not going to be the guy who is going to judge,” Oleksandr Zinchenko said when asked if his Arsenal team-mate is the best player in England following Ukraine’s defeat at Wembley.

    “Definitely, he’s one of them, that’s for sure. He’s an amazing player. We knew that. He’s on fire at the moment.”

  5. Arteta’s relief

    Arteta’s relief

    Along with Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli, Saka has been the driving force behind Arsenal’s unlikely Premier League title bid this season.

    So, Mikel Arteta would have been nervously watching his winger during the international break, desperately hoping to see him come through England's two fixtures unscathed.

    And Saka did just that, despite being on the receiving end of a few hefty challenges at Wembley on Sunday, especially in the first half when Ukraine were clearly trying to kick him out of the game.

    He will now return to Arsenal and set his sights on landing the club its first league since 2004 and, given the way he is performing right now, you certainly wouldn’t bet against it. 

    He is the best right winger in the world after all!