Arsenal star Bukayo Saka has delivered his verdict on Mikel Arteta’s first full season at the club.
Arteta started brightly after taking over from Unai Emery, winning the FA Cup in his first season, but in his first full campaign in charge, it has not gone particularly well.
The Gunners were trophyless, and with another eighth-place finish, they missed out on European qualification for the first time in 25 years, crashing out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage to Villarreal.
Those disappointments have seen Arteta come under intense criticism, at times, and he will likely head into next season needing to start well to ensure he keeps his job.
But the feeling from inside the Arsenal camp is that Arteta is doing the right things, with the Gunners’ player of the season Saka telling the official website: “Arteta knows a lot about football. He came in with a really clear plan. He has done it in a really progressive way, and he has given us opportunities – all of us.
“He has given us so much belief, not just that, but information, advice on how to improve.
“You can see that with the youngsters, they are not just coming in but they are coming in and making their mark, proving they can stay in the team.
“That’s a credit to him.”
Saka added: “When I came to him, I was young and he was trying to find out the best position for me.
“But the more I play under him, it’s becoming more clear.”
Saka initially played as a full-back for Arsenal, but he has since moved into playing more commonly as a winger, and he has even featured as a number 10.
But all of those positions have proved an important part of his football upbringing, with the youngster crediting Arteta’s use of him in different positions for helping him develop his game.
“Last year, I really just wanted to assist a lot. It was difficult for me to get in the box and score because I was playing left-back,” the 19-year-old said.
“But you learn a lot, playing against the best wingers in the league. Now I can take some of the stuff I learned and when I am playing midfield or number 10, you learn.”