We had to wait three years, but what a first! William Saliba (21) took his first steps in an official match in the jersey of Arsenal this Friday, on the occasion of the inaugural victory in the Premier League for the Gunners on the lawn of Crystal Palace (2-0). The French central defender, recruited in July 2019 for 30 M€ but loaned successively to ASSE, OGC Nice then OM last year, had never worn the jersey of the London club. It is now done, therefore, and his performance is enough to give even more regrets to Pablo Longoria and the Marseillais.
By establishing the French international at Selhurst Park alongside former Lille Gabriel Magalhães to launch the 2022-2023 season across the Channel, Mikel Arteta has confirmed the speech made for a few weeks about him. Enough to make OM definitely understand that William Saliba was well and truly on the way to staying. The principal concerned has already made everyone agree for his first steps with Arsenal. If the Canonniers left the south-east suburbs of London with the three points and a clean sheet in their luggage, it was largely thanks to the native of Bondy.
A real boss match
William Saliba has indeed made a high-flying game against the men of Patrick Vieira. Very authoritarian in his interventions (6 clearances), never worried in the duel, serene with the ball (94% of successful passes), always well placed for his good reading of the game (7 balls recovered), dominant in the air (100%) and in the races: the No. 12 of the Gunners played a full game, overflowing with calm and reassuring his partners throughout the meeting, like a muscular tackle in his area on Wilfried Zaha in the second half. A performance worthy, already, of a boss of the defense, which logically earned him the title of Man of the Match of this first meeting of the season in the Premier League.
Our Man of the Match tonight? 🏆
100% take-ons completed
100% aerial duels won
94% pass accuracy
7 ball recovery
🇬🇧 Beginner William Saliba 👏 pic.twitter.com/vT3MeWTPAD
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 5, 2022
“My debut in PL? It was very good because we start with a victory and a clean sheetrejoiced the Frenchy at the microphone of the official site of Arsenal after the meeting. It was a complicated game, but we won in the end so it’s very good. Yes, I waited a long time (before debuting). I am so happy. It’s great when you have the chance to start in this fantastic club. So I’m super happy, and I’m even hungrier for what’s next. » Competing with Gabriel, Ben White, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari (who could leave the club this summer) for a starting position in the central hinge, the player trained in Saint-Étienne has proven that he has the stuff and the build to win at Arsenal.
Arteta assumes everything for Saliba, who has already conquered the English
“You don’t often see that.welcomed his coach, Mikel Arteta, at a press conference. William is 21 and made his Premier League debut against an opponent whose players are very physical. To handle the situation as he did with this composure, this calm and this presence, it is to his credit. We wanted to let it be what it is and let it play. » 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 willing to come here and prove 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 SkySaliba, however, admitted that spending the last few years on loan in France had helped him as he needed to play. A management that therefore pays off in the long term for Arsenal.
In Her Majesty’s Kingdom, everyone stands up in any case for 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 scrolling. I was impressed. He reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand. And he 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, legend of Liverpool, to follow suit. “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 managed this second half, helping Ben White a few times in the box, shows that he is made for this role. He was very good. » The future looks bright.