Jude Bellingham’s future looks set to be decided next summer as the Premier League’s heavyweights begin to circle along with other European giants. But the England starlet’s comments praising his team-mate Bukayo Saka are only likely to strengthen the appeal of a surprise move to Arsenal after he likened the winger to Lionel Messi.
Saka played an important role in England’s 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday after coming off the bench with his side two goals down. The 21-year-old provided an assist for Mason Mount and generally linked up superbly in a more attacking role than he is used to playing under Gareth Southgate.
Saka, along with fellow substitute and goalscorer Mason Mount, was rightly lauded by his team-mates and pundits alike for his seismic impact at Wembley. And Bellingham was at the top of the pile in lavishing praise on the talented winger.
It only took one word to send fans on social media wild with excitement as Bellingham responded to a post about Saka on Instagram with the word: “Leo”, hinting at a comparison with Paris Saint-Germain’s legendary attacker Lionel Messi.
While it is fair to say Saka still has some way to go before he reaches the level of the diminutive Argentinian, Bellingham waxing lyrical about the Arsenal starlet may provide the Gunners with some hope as the 19-year-old faces a tough decision on his future.
Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid are all monitoring the teenager’s situation ahead of a potential £100 million-plus move in the summer of 2023. And while it is understood that the north London side are yet to enter the race for Bellingham, Arsenal may prove to be an attractive place for Bellingham to ply his trade – especially if he is playing alongside Saka.
It seems unlikely that Bellingham will ever get to play with 35-year-old maestro Messi, at least in the same team. But if he believes Saka is the next in line to take the playmaker’s throne as one of the best in the world, it could be all the encouragement he needs to make a shock move to London and join the current Premier League leaders.
As a modest character, Saka may have played down such a comparison. But considering his admiration for the PSG star, the England international would surely relish being put in the same bracket.
In an interview with GQ, Saka was asked which goal he would love to replicate most, and he picked out Messi’s famous solo effort against Athletic Bilbao back in 2015.
“Now that I play, I can see how hard it is to score that goal,” Saka said. “People are trying to kick him, to bring him down in the process, and he just keeps going, and he still scored in the final, as well.
“I was just like, ‘wow’. When he says he’s going past you, you’re not stopping him.”