Mikel Arteta admits Bukayo Saka burnout fears after intense schedule for club and country

Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League
Mikel Arteta would rather not have seen Bukayo Saka play three times during the international break (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits he is concerned over burnout for his teenage star Bukayo Saka after a busy schedule for club and country so far this season.

The 19-year-old featured in all three games for England over the international break, starting in the wins over Republic of Ireland and Iceland, while coming on in the defeat to Belgium.

The versatile left-sided player has also featured in the Premier League, Europa League and Carabao Cup for the Gunners so far this season as the intense schedule continues for many clubs.

The Arsenal boss admits that it was ‘not ideal’ to see the teenager play so much for England over the last two weeks, but does not blame Gareth Southgate for picking Saka and will now just work to get him ready for the clash with Leeds on Sunday.

‘Well, I’ll have to see today when he comes back how he’s looking and how he’s feeling,’ Arteta said on Friday.

‘Obviously, he’s a 19-year-old kid and he’s played a lot of football in the last few months and we have to protect him.

England v Iceland - UEFA Nations League
Bukayo Saka has quickly become an important part of the England squad (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I understand from Gareth [Southgate]’s point of view as well, he had the injury of [Ben] Chilwell and he probably didn’t plan to give him that many minutes but the circumstances forced him to do it.

‘From my side, it’s not ideal, but if I was in Gareth’s shoes, I would have done exactly the same. It is what it is, let’s see how he comes back and try to get him fit and recovered and see how he is for Sunday.’

Saka himself recognises that he has had a lot of time on the pitch, but would not change anything and is loving the responsibility afforded him for Arsenal and England.

‘It’s a lot of minutes but as a kid this is what you dream of,’ he told the Independent. ‘So I can’t now turn around and say I don’t want to play it because I am living my dream, playing for England.

‘I played all three games – who’d have thought I would do that? So I’m not going to complain.

‘I just have to trust the people in charge will manage me in the correct way and continue to help me thrive and progress as a player.’

Arsenal travel to face Leeds in the 4.30pm kick-off on Sunday as they look to climb into the top half of the table, currently sitting 11th after three defeats in their last four Premier League games.

MORE : Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa heaps praise on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal ahead of Elland Road clash

MORE : Arsenal owners prepared to back move for €25million transfer target Dominik Szoboszlai

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