The England ace has two years left on his contract but the vultures are now in circles as the Gunners have missed out on the Champions League
It was always only a matter of time.
When you’re as good as Bukayo Saka, the best clubs in the world will come knocking on your door.
So when Arsenal missed out on a top four finish last season, Saka’s future was always going to become a talking point at some point this summer.
He may still have two years left on the four-year contract he signed in 2020, but that will never stop the vultures from circling.
Indeed, it’s no surprise to see the already mentioned England international as a potential target for Manchester City and Liverpool – as Saka is good enough to play for any team in the world.
His trajectory over the past few seasons gives an idea of the potential he has and the scary thing is that he will only continue to improve.
There’s so much to come from the 20-year-old, who went from teenage talent to superstar in the blink of an eye.
And that’s why Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and every other European top manager will be desperate to bring him to their club if the opportunity arises.
All of this leaves Arsenal in a tricky position when it comes to Saka.
Everyone at the club knows how good he is and the prospect of losing him will send shivers down the spine of everyone connected with the club.
It’s Arsenal’s worst nightmare.
That’s why they’re ready to offer the young striker a vastly improved deal this summer which would put him in touch with some of the club’s top earners despite his young years.
“It’s a conversation we’re going to have with the player, his agent and his family, which are also going to be extremely important,” Arteta said, when discussing a potential new deal for Saka in February.
“Our desire is to keep Bukayo as long as possible because we are really happy. He is part of our club, of our DNA, he is growing, he is maturing.
“His importance in the team is indisputable and we want to keep our best talents, that’s for sure.”
The problem facing Arsenal, however, is that you can only rely on ‘DNA’ for so long.
When a player has Saka’s talent, you also have to live up to his ambition on the pitch.
Look at Wayne Rooney, the ink on his ‘Once a Blue, always a blue’ t-shirt barely had time to dry before saying goodbye to his boyhood club Everton to sign for Manchester United in 2004.
There is no doubt that Saka has a deep connection with Arsenal. He’s the poster boy for the club’s Hale End Academy and he’s immensely proud of it.
But he will also want to compete for the biggest trophies and play in the Champions League every season.
So, Arteta and Edu need to be able to convince him that he can do it if he commits his long-term future to Arsenal.
This is the biggest job they have to do this summer.
When Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification after their stuttering end to the season, all talk was about the knock-on effect it could have on their summer transfer plans.
But the biggest potential impact was always going to be on Saka’s future.
With two years left on his current contract, all the power now lies with the player and his agent.
They are in an incredibly strong position when it comes to negotiations and the ties that have now emerged with Manchester City already look like a power play by their representatives.
Given Saka’s quality and importance to the team, they can almost ask for anything as they know what the loss of a player like Saka would mean for Arsenal and the rebuilding they are undertaking under Arteta.
It would be a hammer blow for everyone in North London to see their local hero move on at such a young age.
But with just two years remaining on his contract, it’s a scary prospect that could easily come true if talks this summer don’t progress as the club would like.
Some might say Saka would be foolish to join a club like City at such a young age. But the young forward never backed down from a challenge.
Nothing has yet stopped his rapid rise and he would back himself to become an integral part of any team he played for.
He has an unshakable self-confidence and that has played a huge role in bringing him to the stage of his young career where he is now.
Saka will be watching his good friend Jack Grealish, who was in a similar situation last summer when he was the main man at his boyhood club Aston Villa.
Even though he loved Villa, he ultimately couldn’t say no when Manchester City knocked on the door.
Arsenal will hope, however, that Saka will follow Grealish’s example and not make that leap too soon.
At just 20, he still has plenty of time to win trophies and play in the Champions League and Arsenal will highlight that as talks over a new contract progress this summer.
Arteta is also absolutely adamant that Saka can achieve both of those things in North London in the near future.
That’s the message he will be looking to send in the coming months as the two sides sit down around the table and try to hammer out a deal.
Securing Saka’s long-term future is the most important task on Arsenal’s agenda this summer.
It’s vital they do this as soon as possible because the longer things drag on, the more real the Gunners’ nightmare scenario becomes.