After six years of consistently making himself available, there are growing concerns that Arsenal and England’s No. 7, Bukayo Saka, may be feeling the strain. Could this be the first sign of a young player whose body is starting to demand rest, like many overplayed athletes before him?

Unfortunately, a break isn’t an option this summer. England expects Saka to be ready for Euro 2024. Saka, who has played 52 games for club and country this season, is anticipated to be in top form when Gareth Southgate’s side faces Serbia in their opening game in Group C on Sunday. Despite being only 22, Saka has already made 259 appearances for club and country, beginning his professional journey in November 2018.

The demands on Saka are immense. Arsenal is often reluctant to rest him, given the high expectations under manager Mikel Arteta. Additionally, Saka frequently endures rough treatment from defenders, accumulating numerous knocks and injuries. Recently, he missed Arsenal’s final game of the season and England’s win against Bosnia and Herzegovina due to a groin injury.

Careful management of Saka’s condition is crucial. While his brief appearance in the 65th minute of England’s game against Iceland was a relief, concerns about his endurance persist. The question remains: Is Saka ready for seven tournament matches? England’s performance significantly improves when Saka is fit and playing, especially in attack. Alongside his natural width, his scoring ability is critical; Saka has 11 goals in 33 international caps, second only to Harry Kane in the current squad.

The speed and directness once provided by Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford in wide areas have yet to be replaced. Newcomers like Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze, and Anthony Gordon show promise but are still gaining experience. The team’s reliance on Kane continues, but fresh talent represents future potential.

While Saka’s contributions have been decisive, the challenge of translating club form to international success is notable. Players like Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham, despite their club prowess, struggle to replicate their success on the national stage. Saka, however, has shown his mettle in critical moments, such as his standout performances in Euro 2020 and the World Cup.

Saka’s relentless style, reminiscent of Arjen Robben, makes him a formidable opponent. His ability to cut inside and deliver precise shots or crosses makes him invaluable. His dynamism is irreplaceable, and his efficiency is highly valued by managers.

Yet, fitness concerns linger. Saka’s form has fluctuated, and injuries have taken a toll. Since his hat-trick against North Macedonia, he has missed two camps and failed to score in five appearances. While his position isn’t threatened, his absence is felt. With only one win in five matches, England needs Saka at his best, but the pressing question is whether his body can keep up.