Arsenal – Liverpool – Pariah become invaluable « Rolls Royce »: Saliba, 8 matches and England is already conquered

There was a time, not so long ago, when Mikel Arteta didn’t want to hear about William Saliba. He even preferred to spend nearly 60 million euros on Ben White rather than placing his trust in the former Stéphanois. It will have taken three years on loan, including six strange months of rubbing shoulders with each other, looking at each other like an earthenware dog and throwing a few warheads at a press conference (“I am exasperated by the situation. We tried to give him playing time recently . It didn’t work out, for various reasons. He has to get over that » in October 2020) to smooth things over and shine the light on those who had to wait longer than reason.

To convince Arteta, it took a great season in Marseille. What he had seen so far was not enough for him, even if it meant playing defenders well below the French international. Above all, Arteta had to agree to trust a rookie landed during the mandate of Unai Emery but the evidence ended up bursting in his face at the start of the season. Three years after the signing of Bondy’s other crack, England discovered William Saliba, at the wrong time. And as often, in these cases, succeeding in eight matches, often of high quality, in the Premier League is enough to raise the rating to heights never reached by the French international.

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William Saliba scored a sublime goal for Arsenal at Bournemouth

Credit: Imago

In my eyes, he is already a leader, he is incredible

It must be said that Saliba, now boss of the defense of the Premier League leaders, remains on 720 minutes, or all of his playing time in England, without being dribbled and a very remarkable performance in the North London derby, against Tottenham and one of the kings of the championship, Harry Kane. Two strong arguments added to a file already filled with two goals and an immaculate debut except for a blunder against Manchester United. « It’s to his credit to have been integrated directly into the team. He’s a bit of a Rolls-Royce with his way of moving and he’s consistent, » dares Aaron Ramsdale, his goalkeeper. « He’s 21 but it looks like he’s 30. In my eyes, he’s already a leader. He’s incredible, » ignites Granit Xhaka.

Same story with consultants whose word is sacred in the United Kingdom. « Arsenal fans are going to be excited about Saliba for a long time, slipped Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender, at the microphone of Sky Sports. I think it’s a safe bet. With Gabriel Jesus, they have taken Arsenal to another level. » His teammates and consultants are won over, his supporters have already dedicated a song to him to the tune of the hit « tequila ». « He’s huge, says Elliott Smith, host of the Arsenal Vision podcast. He’s totally changed the way we structure our defense and how we raise. It’s even better than we could hope for. » Unanimity is total so at the time of the shock against Liverpool, England begins to compare its contribution to Arsenal to that of Virgil van Dijk in Liverpool.

Arteta facing the evidence

But what about the one who has long resisted him: Mikel Arteta? « Willi has been so good in recent months that I have no doubts about him, » he decided at the end of last week. Earlier in the season, he enthused: « You don’t often see that. William is 21 years old. Managing with this composure, this calm and this presence, it is all to his credit. Signing him at 19 years and having him come back two years later is unusual. But he was determined and willing to come here and prove that he was ready. Now we put the player in an environment where he can be comfortable and where he can take advantage of it. »

An environment that could quickly become moving. Since by dint of being loaned, time has flown and there is only a year and a half of contract left for Saliba on the side of the Gunners. Already, the machine is packed. Arsenal knows its central defender, whom Barça thought of this summer, coveted and intends to padlock his future. « Yes, we will see, they talk a little », was content to react the former Marseillais about his future. He who had long hesitated to join Arsenal for good this summer faced with the uncertainty of his situation should not regret it today. A month and a half before the World Cup, his candidacy for Qatar has never seemed so solid. In short, Saliba has made up for lost time.

Mikel Arteta (L) and William Saliba (R)

Credit: Getty Images

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