Bukayo Saka is one of the Premier League’s most-fouled players but absolutely never complains because it is a ‘compliment’.
The Arsenal winger even admits that he would do the same if he was defending against a player like himself, going in “straight and fast”.
Saka – who has scored 10 Premier League goals and claimed nine assists this season – was speaking to the Evening Standard after being named Best Young Player at the London Football Awards.
He says there is no point complaining about his treatment by opposition players and the onus is on him to adapt.
“It can mean [you’re a top player], but at the same time, I’d prefer other compliments!” he said. “People know me more now, I’ve played more and more football, more and more at the higher levels as well, so they will know more what my game is about.
“So they will be setting up plans to stop me, of course, and foul me and stuff like that. It is normal for most wingers. The same happens for most of the other wingers in our team when they play. I just have to keep adapting, learn how to play one-versus-one, two-versus-one, three-versus-one, whatever it is.
“I can’t come out here and start complaining that I’m getting fouled,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense, I’m not going to get anywhere with it.
“Arsenal have had the meetings they need to have with the referees and stuff like that. I feel like we just need to take it from there and see where that gets us.
“The way I play, I’m always going to attract contact. I watched Alexis Sanchez a lot growing up. He was a special player, I loved many things about him. That’s one of the qualities he had — he always got up, fought to the end.
“You could say I took that from him, but at the same time I have my own goals and ambitions. That’s also [part of] my drive.”
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is coaching him to avoid making himself a target by going elsewhere for the ball.
“He’s talking about the type of balls I receive,” Saka said. “As a winger, if you receive the ball on the touchline with your back to the defender, even if I’m the defender, I’d do the same: come in straight and fast, close you down.
“So, of course, there’s going to be a lot of pressure and a lot of contact.
“I think he’s talking about those type of balls, the type of balls where I don’t have much space to manoeuvre and the defender can close me down quickly and be really aggressive.”
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