Bukayo Saka leaves England camp as Arsenal sweating before Man City clash


Bukayo Saka has withdrawn from the England squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal have been left sweating over the fitness of his star man, with next weekend's Premier League title showdown against Manchester City looming over the horizon.

Saka was bound to feature heavily in England's two matches over the five days as Gareth Southgate starts to think about his strongest team for this summer's Euro 2024 in Germany.

But the 22-year-old winger has left the St. George's Park camp as a precaution in a blow to Southgate's plans and potentially Arsenal.

England boast an array of attacking firepower for the European Championships, but Saka is well-placed to cement himself as a starter amid another impressive season.

The Gunners' poster boy has scored 16 goals and provided a further 13 assists in 37 appearances in all competitions this term, helping Mikel Arteta to another title challenge.

Arsenal may have lost their status as league leaders by the time they kick-off against City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Liverpool - currently level on 64 points - host Brighton and Hove Albion earlier in the day, where Jurgen Klopp will hope to apply the pressure on both Arsenal and the reigning champions.

The north London club's late-season collapse last year included a 4-1 defeat at the Etihad as Pep Guardiola's men steamrolled their way to a third consecutive crown.

Arteta will know that victory in Manchester this time around - after beating Guardiola 1-0 in the reverse fixture - could act as a launchpad to ending Arsenal's 20-year wait for a 13th title.

But Saka's England withdrawal could cause more concern at Hale End after Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhaes' dropped out of Brazil duty through injury.

Sceptics may believe that the number of title challengers returning to their clubs early is no coincidence. That theory is nothing new, and Gary Neville - who lifted eight Premier Leagues - is among the believers.

Speaking on The Overlap's Stick to Football podcast, Neville discussed the distraction of the international break with Jill Scott, Ian Wright and Roy Keane.

The Manchester United icon predicted that at least one of Arsenal's Declan Rice, Saka and City's Phil Foden would not be with the England squad for the Belgium game on Tuesday.

The decision to hold international friendly matches in March, with the business end of the club season right around the corner, has been a long-term hot topic for debate.

Saka's withdrawal will be a cause for concern for now, though, with just 10 days left until Arsenal's crunch trip to the Etihad.

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