Connect with us


Bukayo Saka has proven to be an elite talent, so how close is he to world-class status?



Bukayo Saka has proven to be an elite talent, so how close is he to world-class status?

England’s 2-0 win over Ukraine at Wembley seemed like just another day in the office for Buyako Saka, with the 21-year-old adding a goal and an assist to his tally this season.
Saka, who is set to become Arsenal’s highest-paid player on nearly £15million a season, appears to have secured a place in the England squad despite fierce competition across wide areas, after having started six of his last seven caps. His only absence from the starting XI came when he rested for the final World Cup group game against Wales.

The winger is increasingly seen alongside Jude Bellingham as one of England’s gems who possess both goalscoring and creativity. His form at club level has boosted Arsenal’s title challenge, which could also lead to individual accolades with the winger expected to be a contender for the player and young player of the year titles.
Saka established him as one of the best young players in Europe and sparked discussions about how high the roof could be on him. Sportsmail examines how Saka compares to his peers across Europe based on data from Delphlyx’s stats gurus and the level he needs to reach.
Bukayo Saka continued his excellent season with a goal and assist for England against Ukraine

Buyako Saka – 12 goals, 10 assists

No one aged 21 or younger has been able to match Saka’s record for goals and assists at club level during the season in Europe’s top league.
Saka became the first Premier League player this season to score 10 goals and 10 assists earlier this month. The winger scored twice and then used Gabriel Martinelli’s goal against Crystal Palace to achieve the feat before the international break.
The Arsenal academy product became the youngest Gunner to do so in the process, with Cesc Fabregas reaching double figures for both at the age of 22.
Saka’s importance to Arsenal is highlighted by the fact that he has played 2,148 minutes in the Premier League this season, equivalent to 96.47% of the Gunners’ season.
His progress can be demonstrated by comparing his performance last season, when he played 87.49% of the time.
Saka became the first Premier League player this season with 10 goals and assists

This season (blue), Saka has shown impressive improvement in his goals and assists

The winger showed his versatile game with high scores for dribbling and crossing

Saka now scores more goals per game, despite him posting lower XG than he scored for 90 in the 2021-2022 season. His creative output skyrocketed as he recorded 0.25 assists per 90 minutes from an xA of 0.15, up from 0.17 from 0.20.
Most of his offensive numbers have increased slightly, indicating a gradual but lasting improvement.
England manager Gareth Southgate believes Saka’s mentality has changed this season, suggesting the winger has become more ruthless in his quest to become one of Europe’s best wingers.

“I just think when he’s in front of goal now he’s playing with real confidence,” said Southgate after England’s win against Ukraine. “You can see him at his club and in his matches with us. “They now expect him to score if he is successful and it was both a change of mentality and something technical because he always had the technique. I think he knows that in terms goals and assists, you need the right numbers to be a real top winger and without a doubt, he’s delivered that all season.”

Goncalo Ramos – 16 goals, five assists

Portuguese and Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos is the closest to Saka among the U21 players.
Unsurprisingly, Ramos’ numbers are heavily goalscoring as the centre-forward has scored 16 goals in 21 games in Portugal’s top flight this season.

Ramos’ predatory instincts have seen the Benfica star post a 0.86 xG per game.
The 21-year-old is averaging 1.67 shots on target and converting one in four chances to illustrate why he’s been linked with a big summer move to Manchester United. The question is whether Ramos can translate his scoring form to another competition.
Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos is the second highest scoring young player by number of goals

Ramos impressively scores from expected goals and shots on goal every ninety minutes.

Jamal Musiala – 11 goals, eight assists

The Bayern Munich prodigy continued to underline his enormous potential throughout the season despite being only 20 years old.
The German international certainly looks set to be in double figures alongside Saka in goals and assists this season, who only need two more assists.

Only four players have scored more goals in the Bundesliga, with Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani narrowly trailing in assists.
Surprisingly, Musiala reached his total goal commitment from just 1,470 minutes in the 2022-23 Bundesliga season, 678 fewer than Saka. The attacking midfielder scores 0.44 and 0.25 xG and xA per game, while recording 0.92 key successful passes per 90 minutes for the reigning Bundesliga champions.
Jamal Musiala has scored 11 goals and 8 assists in just 1,470 minutes in the Bundesliga this season

The 20-year-old has shown throughout the season how important he is to Bayern Munich’s attack.

Folarin Balogun – 17 goals, one assist

The on-loan Arsenal striker has shone in Ligue 1 for Reims this season, scoring 17 goals in 27 games for Will Still’s side.
Balogun’s success has seen the striker linked with a move to AC Milan should Arsenal choose to cash in this summer.
His international future remains uncertain as the United States are keen to secure him from England.
Balogun recorded 0.78 xG per ninety during the season, with the striker averaging 1.57 shots on target.
Folarin Balogun shone during his loan spell at Ligue 1 club Arsenal in Reims

Folarin Balogun registers highly anticipated goals and shots every ninety minutes

Gabriel Martinelli – 13 goals, two assists

Arsenal are well represented in the top five, with Gabriel Martinelli directly involved in 15 goals during the season. The Brazilian has enjoyed a resurgence of late with six goals in as many Premier League games to give the Gunners an extra clinical advantage.

Martinelli registers 0.24 xG and xA per game, while the striker ranks high on touches in the box, progressive runs and dribbling.
With Martinelli on the left and Saka on the right, it’s perhaps no surprise that Arsenal have performed so impressively throughout the season despite injuries to Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.

Gabriel Martinelli’s lead of six goals in as many games bolstered Arsenal’s title hopes

Gabriel Martinelli ranks high for touches in the box, progressive runs and dribbling

Saka’s impressive goals and assists per minute played can be compared to other attacking players across Europe.
The Arsenal star’s contributions to goals stand out when assessing players under 21 who have played over 800 minutes in Europe’s top five leagues this season. Atlanta’s Rasmus Hojlund and Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko are among the youngsters whose goals are notable, while Musiala is in a league of his own.

When expanded with the game’s established elite, who played 1,400 minutes, Saka closely equals AC Milan’s Rafael Leao and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann in goals and assists per game.
For the most part only the big European names like Lionel Messi, Neymar, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé belong to that level.
Saka, orange, ranks impressively among players 21 and younger in offensive performance.

Saka, orange, is very similar to this season’s Rafael Leao and Antoine Griezmann  performance.