No pressure! Arsenal chief Per Mertesacker believes Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe can bring the club back to the Champions League for the first time in FIVE years as he hopes the duo can inspire the next generations of Gunners
- Mertesacker thinks academy duo can secure Champions League football for club
- Arsenal haven’t been in European elite club competition since the 2016/17 season
- The Gunners have been struggling lately and are without European football this year
- However, Mertesacker believes that Saka and Smith Rowe can inspire generations
Per Mertesacker believes Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe can bring Arsenal back to the Champions League after a five-year absence from the competition.
Mertesacker, a former Gunners defender and now their academy director, insists the duo can inspire future generations of the club for many years to come after rising through the ranks to become regulars in the first team.
Saka and Smith Rowe are two of Mikel Arteta’s most trusted players and have provided glimpses this season of what Arsenal could achieve after years of underperformance for the club.
Emile Smith Rowe (left) and Bukayo Saka (right) could sack Arsenal back into Champions League, says academy director Per Mertesacker
Arsenal’s last place in the top four came in the 2014-15 season, the last time they managed to qualify for the Champions League. But since then they have had to put up with Europa League football as the club hit a new low without European football for the first time in 25 years this season.
Mertesacker admits, however, that Saka, 20, and Smith Rowe, 21, both ‘have to suffer’ before they can send the club back to the promised land of European football.
Mertesacker told The Mirror: “It has always been a story at Arsenal to give young players a chance to play at the top. We ask Bukayo and Emile to guide us back to the Champions League. They will be proud of that, but we also need to understand the context.
Arsenal have not competed in European elite club competition since the 2016/17 season
However, Mertesacker (right) believes Saka (left) and Smith Rowe can inspire generations
“It’s always been there. If you ask Bukayo and Emile they will tell you how they were inspired by Jack Wilshere, Fabregas, Bellerin. So the next generation of Under 9 players in the academy will be inspired by these players.
“But they’ll talk about the bumpy road, their learning, that journey that hasn’t always been easy. The reality is that these two are exceptions.
“We’re giving young players the chance to learn to be vulnerable, show themselves at the highest level and be the right leaders for this club in two or three years’ time, while recognizing that they will probably have to suffer before they take us back to glory.” .’