Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Arsenal news: Bukayo Saka is good enough to emulate Cristiano Ronaldo

Bukayo Saka, Arsenal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Al-Nassr, 2023/24

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka was challenged by manager Mikel Arteta on Monday to emulate the career of Cristiano Ronaldo, his childhood hero.

It seems a big ask. After all, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star has picked up five Ballons d’Or, a number only surpassed by Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo also showed a capacity to evolve his game from a winger to striker and has displayed impressive longevity that is arguably unmatched in the modern day. He continues to score goals at a prodigious rate for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League.

Arteta, though, hopes that Saka, who has 13 Premier League goals for Arsenal this season, is using the Portuguese legend as a measuring stick.

Following the Gunners’ crushing 6-0 win over Sheffield United, he was asked if Saka should be looking at Ronaldo to become a goal-scoring forward, Arteta said: “I hope he is doing that, because he can become much better.

“He can get in better positions still. His finishing, especially with certain circumstances, has to improve and his timing as well. So he can do better.”

Remarkably, though, the signs are that Saka can match Ronaldo, or at least come very close.

Bukayo Saka has been electric this season
© IMAGO – Bukayo Saka has been electric this season

Saka can become as good as Ronaldo

Saka, 22, is already a better player than Ronaldo was at the same age. Data analytics experts SciSports go as far to say that the difference between the two is “clearly higher”.

At the same point in Ronaldo’s career, he was in the middle of his spell with Man Utd and about to explode into the type of form that saw him recognised the world over as one of the best in the game.

At his peak, SciSports gave Ronaldo a SciSkill score of 152.5. This is calculated using hundreds of in-game data points to give an accurate measure of just how good a player is.

As a point of comparison, the best player in the world currently is Manchester City’s Erling Haaland on 140.0.

Saka is better than Ronaldo at 22 years old
© SciSports – Saka is better than Ronaldo at 22 years old

This might one day be Saka, though. The Arsenal star is projected to have a maximum ceiling of 149.5, which is just short of Ronaldo. Of course, allowing for a degree of error means that the England winger could climb even higher than ‘CR7’.

Given the appetite the player has shown for improvement, it would be foolish to rule this out.

In Saka, Arteta and Arsenal have the most exciting winger of this generation. Now it’s up to him to show how good he can be.

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