With England’s left-back core struggling in the Premier League, Gareth Southgate should go outside the box and take Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka to Euro 2020.
At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Gareth Southgate took 2 left-backs to Russia – Manchester United’s Ashley Young and Manchester City’s Fabian Delph. For the 2020 European Championships, it’s likely that the 2 left-backs he takes will be 2 completely different players.
While Ashley Young is still playing in that position, now for Inter Milan, it would be more prudent for Southgate to take a younger player this time around. As for Delph, he is no longer playing left-back, as he now plays at Everton as a midfielder. That pretty much rules him out.
This leaves Southgate with only a handful of options. Over the past year or so, Ben Chilwell has been England’s starting left-back – and is expected to take up that position at Euro 2020 as well. Despite this, the Leicester City man has actually been struggling in the Premier League lately and has been pinpointed as a potential achilles heel for the Three Lions this summer.
Now what gets interesting is the backup left-back spot. Ever since the 2018 World Cup, Danny Rose and Luke Shaw have been interchanging in that spot, but both haven’t really made an impact in the Premier League this season, and Rose has even been sent on loan from Spurs to Newcastle, highlighting his fall from grace.
Shaw has also seemingly lost his spot at Manchester United to academy product Brandon Williams. In truth, neither player is deserving of going to Euro 2020 whatsoever.
But Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is.
For the last few months, Saka has filled in impressively at left-back for the Gunners since both Kolasinac and Tierney went down with injuries. In fact, his performances have been so impressive that he is now being touted as one of the best left-backs in the Premier League, and perhaps even Arsenal’s long-term starter in that position, despite being a natural left-winger.
While yes, Saka is still inexperienced and young (he hasn’t even appeared for England u21 yet!), he is currently the best English left-back based on form, and Southgate would be a fool not to take him to Euro 2020. If Southgate does indeed take Shaw or Rose to Euro 2020 over Saka, it would prove that he prefers reputation over form – something that could spell trouble once the actual tournament comes around.
Saka has been electric for the Gunners, using his knowledge as a winger to his advantage, constantly getting into dangerous positions and putting in mouthwatering crosses for Arsenal’s top-class forwards to feed off of. Gareth Southgate could certainly use such an attacking presence in his team.
So, Mr Southgate if you’re listening, I think you know what to do. Both Rose and Shaw are not the players they used to be, and here is your opportunity to give a deserving young star a shot with the England national team – in a position you could use some help with too.