Ashley Cole fears that Bukayo Saka’s versatility could ultimately prove his undoing and warned the Arsenal youngster may find it ‘very difficult to become a top, top player’ if he does not hold down a regular position.
Saka has been used in a variety of roles for the Gunners this season, with Cole claiming that the 19-year-old is being ‘used and abused’ by managers who rely on his adaptability. However, while former Arsenal left-back Cole thinks Mikel Arteta will ‘love’ Saka’s versatility, he fears it could eventually damage his development.
“But I just feel when you don’t cement down one position, it’s very, very difficult to nail that trade down to become a top, top player.
“As a manager you love it, because he’s adaptable, he can play in three or four positions, which is brilliant.
“But I just feel for him at times, because he’s kind of used and abused.”
Asked what is Saka’s best position, he replied: “I like him from the right but not as a wing-back.
“I like to see him in the attacking areas, where he can cut in on his left foot, combine and he’s got that smart little movements to get in behind with his pace as well.”
Jamie Redknapp, meanwhile, hopes that Saka will be part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euros this summer.
“Brilliant little player. I really like him,’ said Redknapp. “I’m hoping he goes with the England squad to the Euros.
“He might have been one who was sort of on Gareth’s maybe list. But to give him that experience… what I like most about him is he’s fearless.
“He doesn’t care, he wants the ball. He’s been a leading light for Arsenal. If you look at all the players that they’ve got, all the experienced players… he’s the one that you think, if Arsenal win it will because he does something special in the game.”
Furious Arteta gets issue off his chest
Meanwhile, Arteta set the record straight over the effort from his players after a landmark victory over Chelsea.
The Gunners won at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League for the first time since October 2011 on Wednesday. Arteta’s men only had 32 per cent possession, but Emile Smith Rowe’s goal proved enough. Their hosts huffed and puffed, but hitting the bar twice in stoppage time capped their frustrating night in front of goal.
In fact, Tuchel admitted that he had a major regret over his team selection, after making seven changes.
Nevertheless, Arteta lapped his victory up and used it to hit back at media reports from his recent press conference about his players.
Asked by Sky Sports if the victory showed that his team is not beyond repair, Arteta said: “Nothing is broken inside. I don’t know how they want to try from the outside. They try to put things on me that I never said.
“You can see the spirit of the team from the first minute. You can never doubt the efforts and how much they try.”
Asked to elaborate on the source of his anger, the manager added: “Something that I didn’t say. I said [before the match] if I don’t get 120% off each player it’s my fault and responsibility.
“It wasn’t like this in the press. I’m so annoyed by that. My players, I will defend them from everybody for the rest of the time I’m here. They don’t deserve that.
“The players give me everything every day. We can play better, worse, win, lose. That [work rate] is unquestionable and non-negotiable, 100%.”