Arsenal have “unearthed a gem” in Bukayo Saka, says Martin Keown, with the 18-year-old considered to have looked more like a £72 million ($89m) star than Nicolas Pepe during a trip to Manchester United.
An exciting academy graduate was handed a leading role against the Red Devils at Old Trafford, becoming the youngest player to start a Premier League meeting between two old adversaries.
He was far from overawed by the occasion, with a talented winger who has caught the eye in the Europa League this season putting in a lively display.
It was Saka whose clever movement and perfect weight of pass allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to cancel out Scott McTominay’s opener and earn a point for Arsenal in a 1-1 draw.
That telling contribution, along with a number of other promising moments, saw the youngster eclipse the contribution of club-record signing Pepe, who endured a night to forget on the opposite flank.
Former Gunners defender Keown believes a future superstar has been found in north London, with Saka being tipped to play a more prominent role across the 2019-20 campaign.
“Arsenal had to show plenty of determination to come back from 1-0 down at Old Trafford,” Keown told the Daily Mail.
“Let’s not forget this is a team that has struggled away from home under Unai Emery, especially against the Big Six.
“London-born lad Bukayo Saka embodied that fighting spirit on Monday night.
“The 18-year-old winger caused Manchester United all sorts of problems, and it was his quick-thinking which saw Arsenal leave with a point.
“The moment Saka picked up the ball after a misplaced pass by Axel Tuanzebe in the 58th minute, he did not hesitate.
“With one touch, he put Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through. It looked easy, but do not underestimate this pass. It was the earliness of that ball which hurt United. He read the situation.
“Harry Maguire was trying to race back because he was playing his opponent onside. Saka had to be quick, and he was.
“He fed Aubameyang, and it became 1-1. Arsenal look like they have unearthed a gem in Saka. He looked like the £72 million winger on show.
“That is not meant as a dig at Nicolas Pepe, their summer signing from Lille, but rather a compliment for Saka. Only a deflection denied him scoring the winner, too. What a talent he looks.”
Saka, who made his senior bow in November 2018, has now taken in four appearances for Arsenal this season, with his goal account opened in a continental clash with Eintracht Frankfurt.