Former Arsenal legend Nwankwo Kanu has picked out Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe as the club’s best two players this season and insisted the Gunners cannot afford to lose either star.
The two youngsters have been in flying form this season, largely to the surprise of the Arsenal faithful.
Saka has built on his breakthrough campaign last season to become imperative to his side’s fortunes, weighing in with seven goals and six assists from various positions.
Meanwhile Smith Rowe’s Arsenal career jolted back into life after his impressive performances over the festive period, and he has been the Gunners’ top goals provider, registering seven assists.
“There are two names which spring to mind as far as Arsenal’s player of the season goes; Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka,” Kanu said, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Arsenal v Everton.
“They offer the team so much through their versatility. Saka can play in so many positions, and when he’s not playing, you can see the side struggles without him.
“Smith-Rowe is a very good player. He can open up games and Arsenal definitely need him to play more in the next few years.
“These two, for me, have been the best players for Arsenal this season – they can’t afford for either of those two players to get injured.”
Arguably Arsenal’s best performances came when Smith Rowe was being utilised in a no.10 role, though he has often been shunted out wide since the arrival of Martin Odegaard on loan in January.
Mikel Arteta is still keen to keep hold of Odegaard for next season, though faces a battle to prise him away from Real Madrid for another year.
Saka now appears to have found a regular role on the right of Arsenal’s attack, where he has flourished in recent weeks, and now looks a shoe-in to be selected in England’s squad for the European Championships this summer.
But with Arsenal now struggling to qualify for Europe, Kanu has handed out a firm warning to his old club regarding the futures of their young duo.
‘The way Bukayo Saka is playing, he’s so good that there’s always a worry a big club might come in for him in the summer,” the Nigerian added.
“Arsenal have to do everything within their power to keep him. He’s very young, and he’s got so many years ahead of him.
“Arsenal have to make sure they keep all of these young players like Saka and Smith-Rowe.”