Monday, July 22, 2024

Zinchenko opens up on his love for “Rolls-Royce” Saliba

Oleksandr Zinchenko admits he was blown away by the quality of William Saliba within a day of meeting the France international.

The Ukraine international had barely had a moment to digest his move from Manchester City last summer when Mikel Arteta fielded him for 45 minutes at left-back in a pre-season friendly against Chelsea.

The Gunners stormed to a 4-0 win in Orlando, Florida – a result that teed up the club for a fantastic start to the season – and Saliba made a lasting first impression on his new teammate.

In an interview with Rio Ferdinand’s FIVE podcast ahead of this weekend’s Game4Ukraine charity match, Zinchenko was asked to describe Saliba.

“Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce. He’s so good,” he said. “I love him so much. Honestly, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know him before I came to Arsenal. When I saw him from the training sessions, I said, ‘who is this guy?’

“Then, first game against Chelsea pre-season, zero mistakes, this guy never makes a mistake.

“Then he scored the goal with the left foot against Bournemouth and I went to my knees and I said, ‘this guy can do everything, he can do everything. Look, he’s scoring!’

“I played 100 games, I didn’t score yet. This guy, two games in Premier League, already goal with his left foot, top bins. Defensively, no mistakes, so calm on the ball.”

Zinchenko then touched on what sets the best defenders, including Saliba, apart.

“For me, the difference between a world-class centre-back and a good one is when you have a 50-50 ball. Instead of, sometimes of course, no risk, putting the ball out, you have the opportunity to keep it and play with the keeper and pop, pop you save the ball. These guys are different level.”

And if there’s one area the France international can improve: “Maybe just talk, just communication to be a leader, to push the others, to manage, like Vincent [Kompany] at City,” said the Ukrainian.

“When I used to play with him, close to him, he was like playing PlayStation with me. He controlled me, I swear. Sometimes in my head, because I respect him so much, he’s absolutely a legend, and I wanted to say in my head, can you shut up? Can you…no, shut up. I love this so much.

“It’s the only one [thing to improve that] I can see. The rest, he needs to say what I need to improve, not me to him!”

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Class acts, both of them!

Johnny 4 Hats

I’m such a huge fan of Willow, don’t get me wrong. But I do feel sorry for Gabby M who is constantly overlooked by pundits and fans alike. While Saliba was having his post WC dodgy phase, GM was so fantastic at holding the fort and keeping us solid. I still think at this moment in time GM is the better CB of the two, despite the fact I envisage Saliba to overtake him in the next few years. Apart from the odd brain fart, GM is such a superb and vital cog in the arsenal wheel and I’m always… Read more »


I started reading this thinking you were talking about Martinelli 😂


The slight difference I see is that Gabby can get a bit panicky under pressure with the ball at his feet whereas Saliba seems exquisite in those situations. However, without doubt Gabby is very underrated in all circles. The fact he cannot get a cap for Brazil (or even a squad call up) is remarkable (disrespectful). He’s brilliant. Amazing partnership, but it feels much better having two really solid youngsters backing them up this year.


The only player I’ve ever put on any of my shirts is Gabriel 6. I absolutely love him, and I think he’s badly underrated by so many.

Spanish Gooner

He was also the first to buy in to the project (turned down United and Napoli when we were in 8th) and the first to sign a new contract with basically zero fuss. Fantastic player who rightly starts every game he’s available for


Zinny is such a great guy to have on this team, not only for the unicorn player he is, but also just a top bloke. Future world class coach I think.

David C

Xhaka first as Arsenal coach then Zinny, haha!!!

But seriously, when is Santi coming back to coach? Maybe team up with Wilshere.


Brilliant interview, gotta love this guy. But I was just thinking today seeing how much money City are poised to spend on a centre back, 60-80 million seems to be pretty common these last few years for a top CB, we’re so lucky we already have one of the best in the world (and a couple not far behind him) and got him for so much less than that. Saliba is absolute class and our other CBs are pretty good too.

Skinny Ricki

Totally. His attitude, intelligence and insights blew me away,


Just went back and watched Saliba’s goal v. Bournemouth, watch Zinny’s reaction haha… for going up 3-0. What a legend.


Him signing da ting was arguably as big as signing Rice. There was a lot of concern about locking him up long-term. Doing so is just huge. For such a young CB to be this good… and an Arsenal player is just phenomenal!


Future coach!

Nathanial T Krieger

I’d donate some calf muscle to this guy. Delightful.

Andy Drew

Last season, Saliba to Holding, the drop in level was definitely from Rolls Royce to a Toyota Camry 🤣


Seems like we have a lot of options left and right back to accompany the shoe in Saliba/Gabriel partnership, Ben, Tomi and Timber all have experience in CB, Kiwior also, Tierney & Zini on the left, obviously sad to say Holding will likely to be leaving with Cedric, tomorrows line up will be interesting as it can be seen as our likely 1st eleven that will start our 1st game of the season, i make it Ramsbo, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber, Rice, Parthey, Havertz, Odergaurd, Saka, Martinelli, Trossard 1st sub , Eddie 2nd,

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