Bukayo Saka speaks out on long-term injury concerns due to rough treatment | Football

Bukayo Saka is not letting himself think negatively about his game (Picture: Getty Images)

Bukayo Saka has dismissed concerns over his long-term fitness, despite his club admitting they are worried about the rough treatment he receives on the pitch.

The 22-year-old does take a lot of kicks from full-backs, as is the nature of the job for a tricky winger, and in 2023 he was the third most fouled player in the Premier League.

Such was Arsenal’s concern over the situation that they registered a complaint with PGMOL, asking for more protection for the England international.

Saka goes into the north London derby on Sunday expecting to be on the wrong end of more fouls, but he is not thinking about the long-term impact on his career as he doesn’t want those thoughts creeping in and diminishing his game.

‘No, not really,’ he told the Telegraph on whether he is worried about his fitness in the future.

‘I don’t try to put those negative thoughts in my head because then I will start to be more shy in my duels and it will affect my game. I don’t really worry on that side.’

Saka sees the problem as simply part of the job and tries to look at it positively, hoping referees will punish opponents appropriately.

epa11253430 Arsenal's Bukayo Saka recovers after a clash during the English Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal in Manchester, Britain, 31 March 2024. EPA/PETER POWELL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos, 'live' services or NFTs. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Saka has dealt with plenty of heavy treatment over his young career so far (Picture: EPA)

‘There are two elements. The first is that defenders can’t do that all game,’ he said. ‘They will get yellow carded and then they have to stop.

‘The second element is that, as an attacking player, you are in the team to score goals and create goals.

‘Part of that is going to involve having to beat defenders and, yeah, they are going to try their best to stop you. One way they like to stop you is kicking you. But just because you get a kick, you can’t hide away and not do that. Because that is what you are in the team to do.’

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Mikel Arteta has called on referees to protect Bukayo Saka (Picture: Getty Images)

Speaking earlier this season, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said: ‘There is a lot of focus now on Bukayo, and we need to keep that in mind as a team with the plans that we put together, understanding what the opponents are doing, but for sure referees have their responsibilities and they have to do their jobs,

‘If you ask him how it used to be when he was 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 – it isn’t very different. Wingers and talented players get kicked and fouled and get the demand to win games and that is the chance he has, that is his role in the team.’

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