We had to wait three years, but what a first! William Saliba (21) took his first steps this Friday in an official game with Arsenal’s shirt, on the occasion of the Gunners’ opening Premier League victory at Crystal Palace (2-0). The French centre-back, hired in July 2019 for €30m but loaned successively to ASSE, OGC Nice and OM last year, had never worn the shirt of the London club. Now it’s done, then, and his performance is enough to make Pablo Longoria and the Marseilles regret even more.
By setting up the France international at Selhurst Park alongside former Lille Gabriel Magalhães to launch the 2022-2023 season across the Channel, Mikel Arteta has confirmed the talk about him for a few weeks. It’s enough to make OM understand for good that William Saliba was on track to stay. The main interested party has already agreed to his first steps with Arsenal. If the Gunners left the south-east London suburbs with all three points and a clean sheet in the bag, it was largely thanks to the Bondy native.
A real match of heads
Indeed, William Saliba had a great game against Patrick Vieira’s men. Very authoritarian in his interventions (6 clearances), never worried in the duel, calm with the ball (94% successful passes), always well placed due to his good reading of the game (7 recovered balls), dominant in the air (100). %) and on the run: The Gunners’ number 12 had a full game, overflowing with calmness and calming his team-mates throughout the encounter, such as a muscular run into his area on Wilfried Zaha in the second half. A performance worthy, already, of a head of defense, which logically earned him the title of The man of the match of this first meeting of the season in the Premier League.
Our man of the match tonight? 🏆
Acquisitions 100% completed
100% aerial duels won
94% passing accuracy
7 ball recovery
🇬🇧 Beginner William Saliba 👏 pic.twitter.com/vT3MeWTPAD
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 5, 2022
“My debut in the PL? It was very good because we started with a win and a clean sheetFrenchy rejoiced on the microphone of Arsenal’s official site after the meeting. It was a tough game, but in the end we won, so that’s great. Yes, I waited a long time (before debuting). I am so happy. It’s great when you get the chance to start at this great club. So I’m super happy, and I’m still hungry for more to come. » Competing with Gabriel, Ben White, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari (who could leave the club this summer) for a starting position in the center hinge, the Saint-Étienne-trained player has shown that he has the stuff and the strength to win at arsenal
Arteta assumes everything for Saliba, who has already conquered the English
“You don’t see that often.has welcomed his coach, Mikel Arteta, in a press conference. William is 21 years old and made his Premier League debut against an opponent whose players are very physical. Handling the situation as he did with such composure, such calmness and such presence, is to his credit. We wanted to let it be what it is and let it play out. » And the 40-year-old coach to recognize. “The way we tried to develop this player with his consent and with his knowledge, signing him at 19 and bringing him back two years later is unusual. But he was determined and ready to come here and prove that he was ready. Now we put the player in an environment where they can be comfortable and where they can enjoy it. » At the microphone of heavenSaliba, however, admitted that spending the last few years on loan in France had helped him because he needed to play. A management that therefore pays in the long term for Arsenal.
In Her Majesty’s Kingdom, everyone defends, if anything, William Saliba, who has already impressed and put observers in his pocket. “He has football in himin this sense explained Gary Neville on the set of Sky Sportsbefore moving. I was impressed. He reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand. And it will get stronger. He is still a young central defender at 21 years old. […] It’s a big night for him, he signs such a performance for his debut. » And Jamie Carragher, Liverpool legend, to follow his example. “Even before you see him play, when you see him running in the warm-up, you think he looks like a good player. The way he handled that second half, assisting Ben White a few times in the box, shows he is made for the role. It was very good. » The future looks bright.