According to Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka can prosper during England’s World Cup campaign after absorbing the backlash from his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final “impeccably.”
After England’s tight tie with Italy last July, Saka’s spot-kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, ensuring the Three Lions lost in their first major final appearance since the 1966 World Cup.
The winger then suffered further domestic disappointment when Arsenal failed to finish in the top four last season, but he has recovered well this season.
Bukayo Saka’s stats so far this season
Only five players have bettered Saka’s tally of 10 goal contributions in the Premier League this season (four goals, six assists), with Arsenal flying high at the top of the table, and his Gunners teammate Ramsdale expects him to impress in Qatar.
When asked how Saka handled last year’s disappointment, Ramsdale replied: “[I’m] trying to find the right words, impeccably, probably.
“The kid’s a lovely boy, he has time for everyone, he works super hard throughout every week.
“He very, very rarely misses a training session and he used all that motivation of criticism, but also the love that everyone gave him, [it] gave him an extra boost.
“Don’t forget he had the pressure of the whole football club on him last year – him and Emile Smith Rowe were our main guys – and he has dealt with that, he’s dealt with everything else.
“He is thriving and I can’t wait to see him thrive over here.”
When asked about Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League last season, Ramsdale stated Saka blamed himself for the Gunners’ defeat.
“When we missed out on the top four, he felt like it was all his fault because he couldn’t provide for us,” Ramsdale added.
“I was just able to reflect that the season before they finished eighth, [last] season we finished fifth, and if we go another step again, we will be in the top four. It’s a game of football and there’s a lot more to it.
Asked whether Saka had become a stronger character in the last year, he said:
“Absolutely. There is no doubt about that, off the pitch and on it. He’s a more complete person.”