Bukayo Saka put in an impressive display on his World Cup debut earlier this week, scoring a brace and winning the Man of the Match award as England thrashed Iran.
Former England striker Emile Heskey was impressed with the performance, and he believes it comes from Saka carrying his strong club form to the national team and finally being used in his best position by Gareth Southgate.
“Saka’s doing it week in, week out at a big club like Arsenal at the age of 21 and that shows where he is mentally,” Heskey said. “And when you’re in a good place mentally, nothing is impossible.
“He’s only 21 and there will be times where has to cope with a dip in form. But we need to just bear with him because he will bounce back.
“It’s key that he’s being played in his best position now. Players don’t usually say anything when they’re being out of position, even if it’s to their own detriment they’ll just do what the manager tells them.
“But if you play them in their right position you’ll get the best out of them like Southgate is with Saka now.
“Bukayo Saka is England’s MVP. Young players like him don’t overthink things. He isn’t affected by the external noise. He’s just playing on instinct and letting his talent do the talking. It’s great to see and he’s showing what a special player he is.”
Saka almost always plays on the right wing for Arsenal, particularly over the last year or two, but Southgate has often pushed him out to left-wing back.
There’s no doubt the youngster can play that position, and he has done to great effect with Arsenal and England. But he’s a real game-changer on the wing.
Mikel Arteta figured that out pretty quickly, and whilst it’s taken Southgate a bit longer to commit, handing Saka a start on the right in the opening game of a World Cup suggests he’s cottoned on now.