Premier League • England

Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney expect England ‘game-changing’ weapon to explode at Euros

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka England

Bukayo Saka has been tipped to make a big impact at Euro 2024

Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney have both heaped praise on ‘fantastic’ Arsenal and England winger Bukayo Saka ahead of the start of Euro 2024 and are expecting big things from the player.

Saka and the rest of the England squad arrived in Germany on Monday as Gareth Southgate’s side prepare for their opening group outing against Serbia on Sunday evening.

Following another impressive season for title-challenging Arsenal, Saka is pushing to start in a front three that will also include Harry Kane and Phil Foden, with LaLiga Player of the Season Jude Bellingham in behind them.

Saka scored 20 goals and laid on 13 assists in 44 games in all competitions for Arsenal this past season as Mikel Arteta’s men closed the gap but ultimately finished second to Manchester City in the title race again.

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The 22-year-old’s impressive campaign saw him shortlisted for the Premier League Young Player of the Season award, only for his England teammate Cole Palmer to snatch that award.

And Henry, who worked with Saka while he was still in the academy, insists his ‘outstanding’ development in north London has even taken those at the club by surprise.

“He has a coach in the national team that can help him because that happened to him, and he has a family,” Henry told the Premier League. “You just need to go out there and once again perform. You perform and people will forget. And that’s exactly what he did.

“I’ve know Bukayo for a very long time, since the academy. I don’t think anyone thought he was going to be what he became. There was a lot of hope. But what he has been doing is just outstanding!

“He’s so humble, the way he sees the game… defending well, attacking well, clever the way he holds the ball, now he’s adding goals and assists to his game.

“To remember the guy that I saw in the academy early doors and see what he became… when you have the will, that grit, that desire and work ethic – talent can be one thing but if you don’t have that, you’re going nowhere. He has that!”

Rooney talks up ‘fantastic’ Saka

Manchester United and Three Lions legend Rooney, meanwhile, is also a big Saka fan, labelling the Gunners forward a ‘game-changer’ who is in ‘fantastic’ form heading into the Euros.

“It’s very rare you get wide player running off the ball and running in behind, and I think his movement is fantastic,”  Rooney said.

“You imagine his position on the right for England is almost cemented in. He is a game-changer who can win games for you. He has been fantastic, especially the last couple of years.”

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Saka is expected to start for England against Serbia on Sunday, despite coming off the bench for the hugely disappointing send-off defeat against Iceland at Wembley.

Southgate’s side then face Denmark and Slovenia in their bid to reach the knockout phase and hopefully end England’s long wait for a major trophy that stretches back to 1966.