Mikel Arteta has told Bukayo Saka he will have to carry on going like a marathon runner.
Saka, 19, has become invaluable to Arsenal ’s season, was the Europa League hero in Athens on Thursday night and even Arteta admits he would “ideally” need a rest ahead of Sunday’s trip to Leicester.
But Arteta insists players can easily make themselves tired by thinking too much about fatigue levels and says Saka will have to keep on going in a vital few weeks for the club.
Arsenal starlet Saka has arguably become the most important player at the Emirates, has already provided 18 assists in his career and, despite playing 35 games for club and country this season, there is no room for a break.
Gunners boss Arteta said: “There are things and professions that are much harder than ours where people keep on going and going – when someone is running a marathon and chasing somebody.
“There are so many good examples we can use so fatigue is a lot of times mental, because if things go well and you score a goal, I'm sure you will still have the energy to sprint and celebrate that goal.
“But when you have to track someone back you say you're tired? I don't really agree with that, if you are on that pitch – until you are absolutely done – you have to give your best.
“It is not only him, there are a lot of players who have played so many minutes, you could see the Benfica players and you could sense the fatigue and the changes they had to do straight away.
“But obviously when things go well the energy that creates sometimes overcomes fatigue and I prefer not to talk too much about fatigue.
“If we have to rest players we have to rest them because we have to keep them fit as much as possible but as well you have to develop that mental toughness that you need when you are in competitions you want to win.”
Saka has become one of the best young players in England and, because of his importance to Arsenal, maybe even the very best of the post-2000 generation.
Arteta added: “He is a boy that is constantly willing to learn, to get better, to work on the things he can do better and he is a very humble and hard working boy. When that happens normally, and you have the talent he has, you can go a long way.”
Meanwhile, Arteta believes his opposite number on Sunday, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, should be a contender for Manager of the Year even with what Pep Guardiola is achieving at Manchester City.
Arteta added: “Obviously what Manchester City are achieving at the moment is phenomenal.
“It's unprecedented and that has to be rewarded but as I mentioned before, what Leicester have done in recent years, what they have already achieved this season, with the level of consistency that they've shown in the Premier League, I think [Brendan winning the award] is something to consider.”
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