Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has backed Bukayo Saka to become a world-class footballer in the near future.
The England international has been one of the club’s star performers this season when he was just 19, scoring five goals and adding two assists in 25 Premier League appearances.
“His performances were incredible,” Leno said ahead of the Gunners’ crucial second leg at Slavia Prague on Thursday. “He’s a high level player and he has a high level mentality. This is very unusual for a young player like him as he feels older than he actually is. He’s almost leading the team and that’s a really good sign.
“I’m pretty sure he will become a world class player and we are very happy to have him because I think this season I don’t know if he is the best player on our team but probably one the best.
Leno has said he is happy at Arsenal but has not ruled out a departure to cast new doubts on his future.
The German, who will be without a contract in the summer of 2023, added: “I know I still have a two-year contract and I am also 29 years old. For a keeper it’s not too old, I still have a few years left.
“I am very happy in the club. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I am open to anything. For a new adventure or to stay at Arsenal, but like I said at the moment, I don’t think about my future.
Mikel Arteta’s men travel to the Czech Republic with work to do after a 1-1 draw at the Emirates last week.
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On the prospect of European football for the first time since the 1995-96 season, Leno said: “When you think of the future without Arsenal in a European competition, it’s not right. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen because Arsenal belongs to Europe and that is our goal.
“Slavia Prague beat some good teams in the competition, I think we dominated them in our home game but you can also see that they are very dangerous on counter attacks, set pieces, so we know what to expect.
“It will be a very difficult game, especially away from home, but we also know that it is a dangerous result for us and also for them.
“Once we score a goal they are under a lot of pressure and that should be our goal – to score the first goal and with a second goal we can almost finish the game because then they have to score three goals.”