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Arsenal star Bukayo Saka is second only to Lionel Messi in one key statistic this season

Alex Brotherton

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Arsenal star Bukayo Saka is second only to Lionel Messi in one key statistic this season

Lionel Messi is the only player in Europe's top five leagues who is beating Arsenal's Bukayo Saka in one key metric this season.

Saka is enjoying a career-best season for Arsenal, and is a key reason why the Gunners are on track to end a 19-year wait to lift the Premier League trophy.

The 21-year-old's haul of 12 goals and 10 assists in 28 league games this season has helped his side establish an eight-point lead at the top of the table with just 10 games remaining.

With Saka's current contract set to run out in 2024, there have at times this season been rumours that talks between player and club were not going as planned.

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However, as reported by Fabrizio Romano on Tuesday, the England international is ready to commit his long-term future to the club despite interest from Manchester City.

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Stat proves Saka's importance

Saka is clearly key to Arsenal's success, but a new stat unearthed on Tuesday paints an even starker picture of his importance to the Gunners.

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According to OptaJoe, Saka has provided a combined 12 goals and assists (six of each) this season when the scores have been level in a match.

To put that into context, only seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has bettered that this campaign (14).

Neymar, Antoine Griezmann and Victor Osimhen all have 11, showing that Saka is just about one of the best players in Europe right now in terms of putting his team into winning positions.

Speaking to Sky Sports recently, former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson identified Saka as key player, rather than just a stat-padder.

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"Saka is a big moment player, and he produces at crucial times in big football matches," Merson said.

"He's not the player that gets a hat-trick against a side bottom of the league or he's not grabbing the seventh goal in a 7-0 win.

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"At Arsenal, he's getting the first goal, the equaliser or the winner. He's getting assists at crucial moments.

"He's a big occasion player and there are not a lot of them around.

"There are players that will do a lot of things in games, but they won't be in the most important part of the game. Saka does do that, however, on a weekly basis."

Saka scored a stunning goal in England's 2-0 defeat of Ukraine on Sunday, and will look to return to club football with a bang when Arsenal take on Leeds on Saturday.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Arsenal, Bukayo Saka, Paul Merson, England, Lionel Messi

Alex Brotherton
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