The England ace still has two years left on his contract but the vultures are now circling with the Gunners having missed out on the Champions League
It was always only going to be a matter of time.
When you are as good as Bukayo Saka, the best clubs in the world are going to come knocking on your door.
So, when Arsenal missed out on a top-four spot last season, Saka’s future was always going to become a talking point at some stage this summer.
He may still have two years left on the four-year contract he signed in 2020, but that was never going to stop the vultures from circling.
Indeed, it’s no surprise to see the England international already being mentioned as a potential target for Manchester City and Liverpool – because Saka is good enough to play for any side in the world.
His trajectory during the past few seasons gives a sense of the potential he possesses and the frightening thing is he is only going to continue getting better.
There is so much to come from the 20-year-old, who has gone from being a teenage talent to a superstar in the blink of an eye.
And that is why Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and every other top manager in Europe will be desperate to get him to their club if the opportunity arises.
This all leaves Arsenal in a tricky position when it comes to Saka.
Everyone at the club knows how good he is and the prospect of losing him will send a shiver down the spines of everyone connected with the club.
It’s Arsenal’s worst nightmare.
That’s why they are willing to hand the young attacker a vastly improved deal this summer, one that would put him on terms with some of the club’s top earners despite his tender years.
“It’s a conversation we are going to have with the player, his agent and his family, who are going to be extremely important as well,” said Arteta, when discussing a potential new deal for Saka back in February.
“Our desire is to keep Bukayo as long as possible because we are really happy. He is part of our club, our DNA, he is growing, he is maturing.
“His importance in the team is unquestionable and we want to keep our best talent, that’s for sure.”
The problem facing Arsenal, however, is you can only rely on ‘DNA’ for so long.
When a player has the talent that Saka possesses, you have to also be able to match their ambition on the pitch.
Look at Wayne Rooney, the ink on his ‘Once a Blue, always a blue’ T-shirt barely had time to dry before he was waving goodbye to his boyhood club Everton to sign for Manchester United back in 2004.
There is no doubt that Saka has a deep connection with Arsenal. He is the poster boy of the club’s Hale End academy and he is immensely proud of that fact.
But he will also want to compete for the biggest trophies and play in the Champions League every single season.
So, Arteta and Edu have to be able to convince him that he will be able to do that if he commits his long-term future to Arsenal.
That’s the biggest job they have on their hands this summer.
When Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification following their stuttering end to the season, all the talk centered around the knock-on effect it could have on their summer transfer plans.
But the biggest potential impact was always going to be around Saka’s future.
With two years left on his current deal, all the power now rests with the player and his agent.
They are in an incredibly strong position when it comes to negotiations and the links that have now emerged with Manchester City already feel like a bit of a power play from his representatives.
Given Saka’s quality and his importance to the side, they can ask for almost anything because they know what losing a player like Saka would mean for Arsenal and the rebuild they are undertaking under Arteta.
It would be a hammer blow to everyone in North London to see their homegrown hero move on at such a young age.
But with just two years left on his contract, that is a frightening prospect that could easily become a reality if talks this summer do not progress the way the club want them to.
Some may say Saka would be foolish to join a club like City at such a young age. But the young attacker has never shirked away from a challenge.
Nothing has stopped his rapid rise yet and he would back himself to become an integral part of any side he played for.
He has an unwavering amount of self-belief and that has played a massive role in taking him to the stage of his young career that he now finds himself at.
Saka will look at his good friend Jack Grealish, who was in a similar situation last summer when he was the main man at his boyhood club Aston Villa.
As much as he loved Villa, ultimately he just could not say no when Manchester City came knocking.
Arsenal will hope, however, that Saka will follow Grealish’s lead and not make that jump too early.
At just 20, he still has plenty of time to win trophies and play in the Champions League and Arsenal will point that out as talks about a new contract progress this summer.
Arteta is also absolutely adamant Saka can achieve both those things in north London in the near future.
That is the message he will look to get across in the coming months when both sides sit around the table and attempt to thrash out a deal.
Securing Saka’s long-term future is the most important task on Arsenal’s agenda this summer.
It’s vital they get it done as soon as possible because the longer things drag on, the more real the Gunners’ nightmare scenario becomes.