Jonker revealed that he didn’t anticipate Saka becoming one of the key success stories from the academy, even though they took measures to ensure he played and trained with players of his physical attributes. Jonker admitted that there were three players in the academy whom he believed would make it to Arsenal’s first team and represent the England national team, but Saka was not initially one of them.
This revelation comes as a surprise, especially considering that Saka has since become an integral part of Arsenal’s squad and has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or after being named England’s Men’s Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Unai Emery provided Saka with his debut for Arsenal, and the 22-year-old has made significant strides since then. He is now regarded as one of the club’s most important players, alongside the likes of Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, and William Saliba.
While identifying a talent in the academy can be challenging, it became evident that Saka possessed extraordinary abilities once he stepped onto the Emirates Stadium pitch. Despite his achievements so far, Saka is likely aiming for more significant trophies with Arsenal, as he currently only holds an FA Cup medal from his club career.
Although Jonker may not have immediately recognized Saka’s potential, his contributions to Arsenal’s success should not be underestimated.