Arsenal could face a fight to keep Bukayo Saka long-term if they again fail to land the Premier League title next season.

Despite not being passed fit to face Everton at the Emirates on Sunday, the England forward was overcome with emotion at the final whistle, visibly in tears after the Gunners were confined to second place in the table.

Mikel Arteta’s side kicked-off against Everton knowing no less than a win would suffice if they were to have any chance of ending their 20-year wait for a top flight title, and the hosts delivered. Despite trailing to Idrissa Gueye’s deflected free-kick, Takehiro Tomiyasu levelled before half time and Kai Havertz scrambled home a late winner to seal a 2-1 win.

But it all proved irrelevant, as Manchester City’s 3-1 home win over West Ham sealed a fourth straight Premier League title for Pep Guardiola and co. And the disappointment was evident in north London, with Saka struggling to contain his hurt as he walked onto the pitch at the final whistle.

The 22-year-old has again been pivotal to the Gunners this season, scoring 20 times in all competitions along with a string of assists. However, the evident pain on his face will only serve to put pressure on Arteta, who now face the prospect of having to win major trophies with their key forward inevitably set to be targeted by big European clubs.

Addressing fans on the field afterwards, Arteta was notably keen to urge supporters that there was better to come in 2024/25. “All this is happening because you started believing,” he said.

“You started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do. All the credit has to go to the players and the staff. Don’t be satisfied. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it.”

In reality, both the Arsenal faithful and Arteta have been left to reflect on a home defeat to Aston Villa last month that ultimately proved pivotal in the title race. But the Spanish boss will also be feeling the heat after spending £200million last summer with the goal of ending City’s reign.

Saka is currently contracted to Arsenal until 2027, and a safe bet to go to Euro 2024 with England this summer. And he’s already been tenuously linked with the likes of PSG, with the French club reportedly ready to make a big bid for the forward.

But his post-match reaction on Sunday afternoon did also underline what the club meant to him. Saka was also seen acknowledging fans as they sang his name, despite missing a league clash for just the third time this season.