William Saliba good for Arsenal however Liverpool will confirm him

On Saturday afternoon, when William Saliba was heading in direction of the dressing room on the Emirates Stadium after Arsenal‘s three-1 win in direction of Tottenham, his first victory in a North London derby, Peter Mujuzi, the membership’s DJ/PA announcer, had a vibrant idea. He performed The Champs’ basic tune “Tequila,” which Arsenal followers have was a Saliba tune by shouting the Frenchman’s identify rather than the signature lyric.

As Saliba was about to vanish into the tunnel, all of the stadium chanted his identify in tune. The 21-yr-previous defender applauded the followers in thanks with an limitless grin on his face. The Paris-born-and-bred participant is already a followers’ favourite and, extra importantly, has been most possible the most interesting centre-backs inside the Premier League to this point this season. but his success and quick adaptation to at least one in every of many world’s most interesting leagues isn’t any shock inside the event you understand the earlier Saint-Etienne defender.

Saliba’s expertise has been apparent since he made his Ligue 1 debut with Les Verts at 17 years previous in September 2018. He’d solely moved to the membership’s academy two years earlier after having fun with for a pair of years with Bondy, inside the north suburbs of Paris, the place he is from, and with a sure Wilfried Mbappe — father of Kylian Mbappe — as a coach, earlier than then starring with Montfermeil.

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nonetheless, greater than his expertise, Saliba’s character models him aside from completely different gamers. He has supreme confidence in his personal skill and is not fazed by stress or expectations. rising up inside the Paris banlieues was extremely effective: he found the sport by having fun with on the streets, on concrete, in direction of greater and stronger boys. So he needed to be confident, strong and hungry, in any other case he wouldn’t have made the decrease. He replicated the identical sense of confidence when he joined Arsenal for preseason this previous summer time.

Saliba was conscious that not many people on the membership knew him when he obtained here again to London. Three years after signing for €30 million, he had spent his whole day out on mortgage to Saint-Etienne, good and Marseille to understand expertise. Marseille needed to protect him on a everlasting deal and tried the whole lot to take movement inside the final swap window, however Arsenal rebuffed their proposal. PSG additionally stored an eye mounted on him, whereas completely different large European golf equipment, like Barcelona, had him on their shortlists too, however Arsenal and Mikel Arteta have been by no means going to let him go. They preferred what they noticed from him in Ligue 1 final season (as did France coach Didier Deschamps, who referred to as him as a lot as a consequence of the senior side in March) and Saliba’s potential was too good to lose.

finally, it solely took a pair of teaching classes for all people at Arsenal to understand what a gem they’d. Quietly, however impressively, he is establishing his place inside the staff and comparisons with Virgil van Dijk are in full movement earlier than Liverpool arrive on the Emirates on Sunday.

Saliba’s stats to this point are scary. in direction of Tottenham and Harry Kane final weekend, no opponent accomplished a dribble in direction of him. He recovered the ball eleven instances, which is greater than one other defender in a single recreation this season. He made six passes into the final third, obtained 5 duels and made three clearances, whereas additionally being a menace on set gadgets and even nutmegging Spurs midfielder Oliver Skipp.

Two weeks after shutting down Ivan Toney at Brentford, he did the identical with Kane, and this weekend presents one other confirm, with anyone in every of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz lining up in direction of him. Saliba will not concern it; he is completely satisfied to have lastly damaged through at Arsenal the place he can do his job with dedication, confidence and momentum. he is relishing the problem as he always wishes to confirm himself in direction of one in every of the most interesting, studying and enhancing with the World Cup on the horizon. (He has solely made seven appearances for Les Bleus, however all of them have been in 2022, which bodes effectively for his potentialities of establishing the final squad in Qatar.)

Over all of the season, Saliba’s stats are excellent. he is actually but to be crushed on the dribble and is but to make an error ensuing in a purpose. He has obtained possession primarily the most amongst defenders in all of the league, however might even be inside the most interesting 5 for primarily the most carries with the ball (14,115m in solely eight video games and 720 minutes.)

Saliba performs as an factor of Arsenal’s extreme defensive place and his pressures in midfield are important for Arteta and the staff, as we noticed in direction of Tottenham. it is no shock that Arsenal want to signal him to a mannequin new prolonged-time period contract. His current one, signed again in 2018, expires in June 2024 and talks have solely simply started over an extension.

On Tuesday, when the Gunners arrange for his or her annual staff picture, there was simply one place for Saliba. proper there, inside the course of all of it: large, imposing, strong. that is his character. he is not the loudest, however his self-notion resonates. His Arsenal teammates have been singing his “Tequila” chant inside the dressing room and would possibly hope to do the identical this weekend as they witness the emergence of a particular participant.


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