Bukayo Saka responds to being handed iconic Arsenal squad number

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Bukayo Saka will wear the No.7 for Arsenal next season (Picture: Getty)

Bukayo Saka is ready to repay the faith Mikel Arteta has shown in him after the Arsenal manager rewarded his stunning progress by sanctioning the decision to hand him the club’s iconic No.7 squad number.

The teenager made his first team debut under Unai Emery last season but has made rapid strides under the man who succeeded him on a permanent basis back in December.

Saka put an end to months of speculation surrounding his future by signing a new long-term deal earlier this month, despite reported interest from a number of heavyweight Premier League clubs.

The academy graduate is already a key member of Arteta’s first team squad and his standing is reflected by his new squad number which was previously the property of Tomas Rosicky, Robert Pires and Alexis Sanchez.

Reflecting on his promotion, Saka said: ‘I was so excited to get it. It’s stuff you dream of and to think of the legends who have had it is such an honour.

‘I liked the number growing up because some of the best players in the world have worn it.

‘It shows how much confidence they have in me and I want to repay their faith and hopefully can write my own history in that shirt.’

Saka’s rise to prominence has been a rapid one. Less than two years ago he was watching his idols from the stands and now he is laying on assists for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

He said: ‘In the academy we got tickets to watch (the first team) and I used to see him scoring goals. To now be playing with him is just amazing.

‘You know he’s going to score a goal for us. He’s such a good guy who helps all the young players with advice and he’s also funny as well!’

While the 18-year-old’s club future is now settled, he faces something of a dilemma at international level. He has represented England at youth level and has been pushing for inclusion in the Under-21 squad, but remains eligible to play for Nigeria.

‘It’s a tough choice,’ Saka revealed. ‘I’m happy to have represented England at youth level but I’m also proud of my Nigerian heritage from my parents.

‘We haven’t been picked by any team so it’s about staying humble and when the time comes we’ll make the decision.’

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