Bukayo Saka will burnout soon - what can Arsenal do to help him?

  • Bukayo Saka had fitness issues for much of 2023/24
  • His poor end-of-season form follows a worrying trend
  • Arsenal need new signings to protect him from burnout
Bukayo Saka rarely gets a break, and the fixture congestion is about to get worse
Bukayo Saka rarely gets a break, and the fixture congestion is about to get worse / Visionhaus/GettyImages

If Arsenal are not careful, their starboy could be on the verge of burnout.

Fears over the (mis)management of Bukayo Saka have persisted for many years, and the Gunners have often hinted - unsuccessfully - at easing his workload: pursuing a deal for Leeds United star Raphinha in 2022, while the same window saw Wolves’ Pedro Neto feature as our apparent transfer priority.    

For whatever reason, neither move transpired and it seems Arsenal will, once again, be on the lookout for a new right-wing addition this summer - a prospect which simply cannot come soon enough.   

That is because of Saka’s excessive game-time of late (3,865 minutes across all competitions in 2023/24) and the obvious toll it has taken on his physical health, with the 22-year-old regularly fielded even when nursing a knock and, on occasion, left out of the squad altogether on medical grounds.

Arsenal need to step up this summer and beyond to save Bukayo Saka from burnout

Bukayo Saka
Saka picked up knock after knock last season / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Further to these personal woes, such usage also impacts his performance levels and comes at a collective cost. This became evident in 2023/24 when, after a strong start (six league G/A in seven) and a blistering February (six G/A in four), Saka notched just four G/A over the final nine league games, with two of those coming from the penalty spot.

And the late-season dip follows a trend: in 2022/23, only three of his 25 league G/A came in the last ten matches, while the preceding year saw just four of his total 18 get registered in that same sample size (again, two of which were penalties).

Now, this is not an attack or a bid to cast doubt on Saka’s talent, and G/A are hardly the only indicator of his worth. But the late drop-off forms a pattern that may relate to mounting fitness struggles as the campaign goes on and, when considered alongside an increasingly congested calendar (upcoming Euros, extra Champions League games), it seems this physical harm will only get worse if something is not done.

To that end, it is vital Arsenal (at last) deliver on their forward promise and, preferably, recruit a right-wing specialist rather than opt for a ‘two birds, one stone’ approach (like the Kai Havertz LCM/striker rotation). Indeed, as per The Athletic, buying some offensive “X-factor” is said to rank high among the club’s transfer priorities.

Once cover arrives, our starboy might then feature more sparingly and be better placed to twinkle when on the pitch. He has given Arsenal so much over the years, the least we can do is give him a break.