Exclusive – Arsenal are struggling to agree a new contract with home-grown starlet Bukayo Saka, which leaves the Gunners vulnerable to losing the 18-year-old in the coming months as several Premier League rivals take an active interest.
Saka made his first-team debut for Arsenal last season and was enjoying a meteoric rise in 2019/20 prior to the coronavirus crisis halting all football. He has played 29 times in all competitions this season and has been the club’s first choice left-back since December, with Kieran Tierney injured.
However, Saka’s current contract is still the maiden professional deal he signed at 17. It is due to expire at the end of next season, meaning it has little more than 12 months to run, and does not reflect his new-found status at an estimated worth of between £5,000 and £7,000 per week.
Saka’s recent social media activity has been, rightly or wrongly, interpreted by fans and the media alike as a ‘tease’ or ‘hint’ that a new contract could be announced. The player posted a video of his personal highlights alongside sand timer and football symbols – although it could just as easily be interpreted as an indication of Saka’s desire to play again after eight weeks without football.
To back up the latter likelihood, 90min has been informed that Arsenal are finding it difficult to strike a new agreement. Indeed, Football.London also recently reported that there have been no talks between club officials and Saka’s representatives since early February.
If no deal is agreed, it puts Arsenal under pressure to sell or otherwise risk losing Saka as a free agent in 2021. Due to his age, the Gunners would still be compensated, but such an amount would likely be dwarfed by what they could potentially get for him in an open market.
Arsenal’s current failure to secure a new contract has alerted other clubs to Saka’s potential availability. 90min has been told that Borussia Dortmund are monitoring the situation – the Bundesliga side are no strangers to developing English talent, having previously tempted Jadon Sancho to Germany, while they also currently want Birmingham’s Jude Bellingham.
Interest from Dortmund has additionally been reported by the Daily Mirror. But 90min also understands there is active interest in Saka within the Premier League from Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester, clubs all comfortably above Arsenal when the season was paused.
Yet despite interest from elsewhere, Arsenal sources have told 90min that the Gunners have still not given up hope of securing a contract extension with Saka.
90min has previously been told that financial concerns would see Arsenal’s senior officials halt major outlays with regard to transfer fees or contract renewals in the coming months, although that was in the context of a potentially lucrative pay rise for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who may be sold.
Saka is conversely a long-term investment who would command less of a rise than the club captain.