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Ronaldinho and Rivaldo’s verdicts on Saka speak volumes about Arsenal ace

Brazilian legends Ronaldinho and Rivaldo are both fans of Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka, who was an integral part of the England side that reached the final of Euro 2020

Nominees revealed for Fans’ Footballer of the Year

Ballon d’Or winners Ronaldinho and Rivaldo both included Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka in their top three for this year’s Kopa Trophy.

The acclaim caps off a remarkable year for Saka, who has established himself as one of European football’s brightest talents.

According to a leaked Reddit document, Ronaldo and Rivaldo both selected Saka as their third choice for the Kopa Trophy.

France Football’s prestigious award is presented to the best performing player under the age of 21 and was established in 2018.

This year’s winner was Barcelona midfielder Pedri, following in the footsteps of previous holders Kylian Mbappe and Matthijs de Ligt.

How good is Bukayo Saka? Let us know in the comments below!

Bukayo Saka is widely regarded as one of European football’s brightest talents
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Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Saka finished sixth in the 2021 vote for the Kopa Trophy, behind Pedri, Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala, Nuno Mendes and Mason Greenwood.

Barcelona icon Hristo Stoichkov, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1994, is also believed to have included the Gunners winger in his top three.

Saka enjoyed a sensational 2021, winning Arsenal’s Player of the Season award and helping England reach the final of Euro 2020.

He picked up eight votes in this year’s Kopa Trophy, with winner Pedri receiving 89 – 60 more than second-place Bellingham.

Saka was showered with praise by Arsenal legend Ray Parlour after his goal against Premier League rivals Newcastle last month.

“Saka has been a revelation,” Parlour told talkSPORT. “He and [Emile] Smith Rowe have been the main guys up front creating chances.

“The way he took his goal today, it was fantastic. His movement, his runs off the ball, he’s got so much intelligence. He really can play anywhere.

“The England call-up and playing regularly for England now has given him more belief. He can be anything he wants to be.

“If he can keep working hard, keep his feet on the ground… then he can be a massive player for Arsenal going forward, and for England in major competitions.”

Saka, who can play as a winger or wing-back, has scored eight goals in 73 Premier League appearances since his debut in January 2019.

World Cup winners Ronaldinho and Rivaldo both rate Saka
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Image:

Reuters)

Speaking in June 2020, shortly before the youngster helped Arsenal win a record 14th FA Cup, ex-Gunner Robin van Persie was keen to laud him.

“If you point out Saka, I’m a huge fan of his,” Van Persie told BT Sport. “He can play as a defender, he can play midfield, striker, not the main striker but on the wing.

“He’s a multi-talented player who can offer assists, goals, he’s a joy to watch.”

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta added in January 2021: “He’s really humble, really respectful and at the same time has that character to demand the ball, to make decisions that are not very usual for his age.

“We need that leadership and he’s gaining that with his attitude and his performances. He’s all the time asking to train more to improve in areas that he can do better.

“That was certainly one, producing the final bit in the box to score or assist. He’s doing that much more often.

“If he’s able to do that with the intelligence that he has, with the work rate that he shows on the pitch and with the capacity that he has to understand the game in different positions, then he becomes a really different player.”

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