Arsenal great Gilberto Silva used his social media platform to praise the performances of Bukayo Saka, Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last night.
All three starred in the Gunners’ thrilling 3-2 Europa League win against Benfica.
For some time it appeared as though Arsenal were crashing out of the competition.
After taking the lead through Aubameyang, the Portuguese outfit scored either side of half-time to go 3-2 up on aggregate.
And although Tierney levelled proceedings with a fine finish in the 67th minute, Mikel Arteta’s team still trailed on away goals.
As Arsenal pressed in their ‘home’ leg, played in Piraeus, Greece, because of covid restrictions, Benfica threatened to seal the tie with a breakaway goal.
Then, in the 87th minute, Saka delivered a delightful cross to the far post Aubameyang simply had to nod in from three yards out.
Silva, who was part of Arsenal’s historic 2003/04 ‘Invincibles’ squad, took to Twitter to celebrate.
And he first complemented Tierney and Aubameyang for their goalscoring contributions:
His admiration moved on to Saka, who provided excellent assists for both Aubameyang goals:
Few Arsenal supporters can argue with Silva’s statement Saka has been one of their stand-out players this season.
The 19-year-old has matured, in footballing terms, far beyond his years.
Saka has often been the figurehead of Arsenal’s attack and the player teammates want to find with their passes.
13 goal contributions in 31 appearances is a terrific return for Saka, who doesn’t turn 20 until September.
How long can they keep him?
As well as being the present, Arteta will hope Saka is the future of Arsenal, although it may become increasingly difficult to hold on to his prized asset.
Arsenal were minutes away from capitulating their campaign last night. The Europa League is the Gunners’ last realistic opportunity of getting Champions League football next season.
Failure to achieve that may see the footballing vultures circling talented stars such as Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.
According to Bleacher Report, Bayern Munich showed interest in Saka last summer.
So did Borussia Dortmund, as reported by the Mirror.
Rumours of interest from Germany began to swirl when Saka stalled on signing a new contract at Arsenal.
He put pen to paper on a long-term deal eventually but that’s no guarantee he’ll want to stay if his ambitions are higher than Arsenal’s achievments.
Arteta will want to build his team around Saka. And he’ll fight tooth and nail to keep him.
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