Arsenal captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, is 32 and not getting any younger. So when the Gabonese eventually moves on (or aside), who should get the armband? Thankfully for Arsenal fans, the Gunners have no shortage of exciting young talent to choose from. So let’s look at who has the potential to step up and lead the North London side to future success.
Bukayo Saka (20)
Starboy. Little Chili. B. Whatever you call him, Bukayo Saka is beloved by Arsenal fans and teammates alike, especially given his status as a product of the Arsenal academy. Even Spurs fans clapped for him during a substitute appearance in a pre-season friendly. Of course, this happened after Saka shone at the Euros, before failing to convert a penalty in the final, after which he received vile and racist abuse. But make no mistake, those who insulted him were certainly in the minority. It’s safe to say that Saka’s talent and ability are only surpassed by his popularity.
Even during his recent dip in form, Saka has remained a constant in the starting eleven – partly because he only needs one spark to light up a game, but also because of the energy and attitude that he transmits to his teammates. Few players have the kind of “soft factor” potential of Bukayo Saka.
Kieran Tierney (24)
Kieran Tierney is tough. Whether he’s training in short sleeves and shorts in the dead of winter or performing lung-busting runs up and down the left wing for ninety minutes, the Scot epitomizes strength and determination. He’s also one of the first on-field players to spur his teammates into action during a sub-par showing. After all, it was he who turned the tide of a near early exit from the Europa League last year, jolting the Gunners to life with a solo quality goal. However, while he’s brilliant on the pitch, his string of injuries at Arsenal is concerning. A captain needs to be a constant presence on the field – can he stay fit enough to be a regular first eleven player? For every Gooner’s sake, let’s hope so.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (21)
The midfield is the engine of any team. Look at any top-level central midfielder and you’ll see a player with their head on a swivel, assessing danger and spotting opportunities. Sambi (as he prefers to be known, as opposed to Lokonga) joined Arsenal this summer from Belgian giants RSC Anderlecht, where he was captain under manager (and Manchester City legend) Vincent Kompany.
By all accounts, he has joined the Gunners as a third-choice central midfielder, behind Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka. However, with Partey’s injury woes at the beginning of this season, and Xhaka’s recent stint on the sidelines following his latest red card tackle, the Belgian has impressed in the team, combining defensive poise with incisive, progressive passing. To captain a Kompany side is no mean feat, and if you ask an Arsenal fan today if they’d prefer Xhaka or Sambi next to Partey in midfield, I’m betting Sambi gets the edge over the Swiss. One to keep a close eye on.
Aaron Ramsdale (23)
Personality matters. In the short time he’s been at Arsenal, Ramsdale has completely changed the narrative around him. His arrival was greeted with skepticism, to say the least. Now though, he has diehard young fans clambering for his shirt. Perhaps Arsenal fans are just now understanding what qualities the 23-year old possesses that garnered him “Player of the Season” distinctions at both Bournemouth and Sheffield United. It’s still early, but with such an infectious personality, he could be the positive, optimistic leader that Arsenal will need to claw their way back up the Premier League ladder.
Martin Ødegaard (22)
The new (and improved) M.O. of the Arsenal midfield has hit the ground running, in more ways than one. I don’t know where he gets the energy, but when Martin Ødegaard is on the field, he is EVERYWHERE. The Norwegian national team captain is as creative with his wand of a left foot as he is hard-working, constantly tracking back, providing defensive support and then pressing opposition defenses to try and win the ball back. Ødegaard rose to prominence as a 16-year old, when he signed for Real Madrid. After a few seasons on loan at Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad, he ended up at Arsenal on loan (once again) in January 2021.
After a string of brilliant performances, he was struck down with an ankle injury while on international duty. For the last couple of months of the 2020-21 season. he wasn’t himself. He ended the season and headed back to his parent club, with every intention of staying in Madrid to fight for a starting spot. But they didn’t want him – at least not in the first eleven. So he said adiós, and came back to North London to finish what he started. The 22-year old Norwegian knows what it’s like to play and lead the best in the world – he wouldn’t be Erling Haaland’s national captain otherwise. He has the talent, belief and drive to lead any team. Only time will tell if he can do it in the red and white.
What do you think? Should Ben White or Gabriel be in the conversation for Arsenal captain, too? Let us know in the comments.
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