Arsene Wenger believes Bukayo Saka will have to learn to cope with provocation and being targeted by the opposition if he is to take his game to the next level. The legendary former Arsenal boss is a huge admirer of Saka and believes the star has one last hurdle to overcome before he becomes top class.
Saka has been arguably Arsenal’s best player this season as he continues his impressive development under Mikel Arteta.
The England international was on target once again for the Gunners in midweek in the 1-1 draw with Benfica in the Europa League last 32.
Wenger wants to see Saka answer four key questions regarding his mindset, as the opposition continues to try and bully him out of the game.
The Frenchman said on beIN SPORTS: “It is a final hurdle, to see if he can cope with that kind of pressure.
“How does he respond to provocation? Does he keep control? Does he not accept being bullied? Does he respond?
“So with him, I agree, you see all the positive signs on that front.”
Earlier this week after the draw in Rome, Wenger’s former Arsenal striker Ian Wright raised fears that the 19-year-old could eventually burnout.
“Saka, everybody is worried about him because he is so young and he has the weight of being expected to create for all of Arsenal,” Wright told Optus Sport.
Before adding: “[Emile] Smith Rowe went off with cramp, you’re hoping Saka can stay fit, if anything happens to those guys, from a creative point of view.
“Those are the guys that are pushing Arsenal forward alongside Thomas Partey [and] if anything happens to them it could start to stall again.”
Yet when the comments were put to Arteta, the Arsenal manager defended his use of the highly-rated teenager.
“It is (difficult) at the moment because he’s been a real threat,” Arteta said. “He’s involved in a lot of goals all the time and his consistent performances make him a starter obviously.
“I’m not going to put a brake on his development or how much he can do week in, week out.
“We have to support him and give him the best possible advice all the time, and then manage his minutes so he can maintain this level.
“It’s a fine balance, but at the same time he’s 19 years old and we have to protect him.”