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Great Britain

Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka has been likened to Cristiano Ronaldo and starts at Man Utd

UNLUCKY to be hooked off for tactical reasons while Arsenal toiled with newly-promoted Aston Villa, Bukayo Saka announced himself on the mainstage in the Europa League.

The 18-year-old Arsenal starlet, who was first called-up to Unai Emery's first-team last season, scored his first senior goal and set up the other two as the Gunners destroyed Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in Germany.

And it was a performance in waiting for Saka, after he first caught the eye of Michael Owen, working as an analyst for BT Sport when he made his debut against Qarabag.

"Some of the skill... I watched Cristiano Ronaldo doing this the other day for Juventus," the former England man said last December.

"He's just different class and by the end of the game his confidence was oozing."

Since then Saka, who has caught the attention of Bundesliga clubs, has made greater strides in the first team.

READY, FREDDIE, GO

Saka joined the Gunners' Hale End academy nine years before his debut.

And despite his success with Freddie Ljungberg who ran Arsenal's youth set-up, the London-born lad had not been expecting to be called-up by Emery.

Sat among team-mates as Emery listed off his squad for the Qarabag clash, Saka was jolted by the sound of his own name.

"He called out the team and I couldn't believe it," the talented teen said.

"I couldn't stop thinking about today, what I'm gonna do, how I'm going to do, and it turned out alright."

As did Saka, who signed his first contract with Arsenal last September.

His rapid rise hasn't been a surprise for Ljungberg, who told the club's official website: "He's just going to get better and better, keep his head down and keep working."

LION IN WAIT

He has been a regular with England's Under-19s, scoring on his debut against Moldova and bagging a double against the Czech Republic.

And his already sharp shooting ability is being honed even more by working with the first team.

Saka told Arsenal.com: "When we do finishing drills with Lacazette, Aubameyang and Iwobi, you can just see the finishing and the quality that they have.

"I just want to be like them, so every time I'm there I just try to learn from the best, especially in my position because I can take a lot from them."

Saka is emerging from a system with a reputation.

Expectations are lofty when you're following in the footsteps of the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Cole and Hector Bellerin.

But when you're being compared to Ronaldo, the future is inevitably bright.

Saka has chipped in with two goals and five assists in 15 games in all competitions this season.

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