Monday, July 22, 2024

Arteta: Saliba’s development is remarkable

It took a while for William Saliba to win over Mikel Arteta but there’s no hiding the love the Spaniard now has for his centre-back.

A first-choice pick since he broke into the Arsenal first team last year, the France international has brought a calmness and authority to the backline that belies his tender years.

While Saliba still has room for improvement, his importance to the Gunners was underlined in the closing stages of last season when he picked up an injury and the team surrendered a handsome advantage at the top of the table in his absence.

“It’s clear with me [fully fit], Arsenal could have been champions, but injuries are a part of football,” he told Telefoot (via GFFN).

“Last year, I had a good season. Unfortunately, I got injured during the year and at the final sprint. It’s a new season with new ambitions and I hope that we can do even better.”

That’s certainly the target for Mikel Arteta who had warm words for Saliba ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Lens.

“When you look how he’s developing, his role in the team, the level and consistency he’s shown in the last year or so, it’s remarkable,” said the manager.

“I don’t think you will find a lot of centre-backs doing what he’s doing.”

After signing a new four-year contract in July, Saliba now has the chance to become a modern Arsenal great. Arteta says his teammates have played a vital role in nurturing the youngster’s talent.

“Credit to the players around him as well, the way they are guiding him, protecting him, inspiring him and then with the qualities he has, the presence, the physicality and composure to be a leader in the back line for a big club like us, it’s a huge compliment.”

Saliba was due to face the media yesterday evening but a press conference at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis had to be cancelled after Arsenal’s plane was left stranded on the tarmac at Luton Airport for five hours.

Instead, the 22-year-old dialled in a few lines about playing on home soil.

“We have to arrive first but tomorrow is another day and we will give our best against Lens,” he told ESPN.

“It is really good feeling. My second game in the Champions League with Arsenal. I can’t wait to play in France, so it is a good feeling.”

Lens drew with Sevilla on matchday one but come into the match buoyed by consecutive victories in Ligue 1 after a slow start to the new campaign.

“This competition – we are here and we deserve to be here,” said head coach Franck Haise about the test awaiting his players.

“Yes, we are outsiders compared with Arsenal so we are not going to compare ourselves.

“The technical level, the collective skill and what has been created by coach Arteta makes me think that Arsenal are superior in the group.

“Certainly it is a big challenge. The experience, the quality, the past and the present of Arsenal – [but] we met teams like that in Ligue 1, like Paris St Germain, and we have got results.”

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C.B.

Saliba – 10 more years at Arsenal please (or more)!

Top, top player!

Johnny 4 Hats

This will get horrendously downvoted and I’m sorry.

But I can just see Saliba in a Real Madrid shirt.

Mkh

Downvoted because it’s not given. If we do well and win a few trophies, that may never come true.

Heavenly Chapecoense

If he can’t play as an inverted Center Wing Back in a new system first used by Pep?

Declan Fried Rice with Egg

Patrick Vieira to Real Madrid was an annual affair.

Glad it didn’t happen.

TeeCee

You have photoshop glasses?

Badaab

Too much football manager

allezkev

That’s what I used to hear every summer about Patrick Vieira

Naked Cygan

Hopefully Barca and Real go into major financial troubles which would limit their spending. Also hopefully Real will get Mbappe and spend $300 million and put all their eggs in that basket.

Emi Rates

I can see it too. Sometime in his mid to late thirties, after winning just about all he can win at Arsenal, Saliba is on a wind down. He signs the last deal of his career and joins a slower league with gentler pace and ace weather. He spends a couple of years there enjoying the culture and all round awesomeness of Spain before retiring.

Ebo

I honestly dont remember a time at Arsenal when there was never a question or complaint about our top 2 CBs for more than a full season since Tony Adams retired. Since Salina has come into the team we can almost take for granted this is an area of the pitch we don’t habe to worry about, what a luxury that is.

Ebo

*Saliba

Sachin

Actually… Per and Kos were an unlikely but super effective pairing that could go toe to toe with Rio+Vidic and Twat+Carvalho. Though I agree with you we are blessed now, esp since we have fantastic backup in Kiwior and Tomiyasu.

Ebo

I love the BFG, he was a very good CB. He mostly made up for his lack of pace with exceptional intelligence and timing but was still occasionally caught out and it hurt us a bunch of times, especially when Kos (who was world class and the perfect partner for him) wasn’t available. Right now we have Gabriel who I’d say is a similar level to Kos, and Saliba who is even better.

Snc

A good time to also watch Saliba vs Elye Wahy. Would love to see Wahy in red and white in the future.

leroy

One of the many things I love about Saliba, and Gabriel too, are their celebrations when we score. No matter who scores, their celebrations are top notch!

Mayor McCheese

You monster! #endcornerflagabuse

loose_cannon

I remember a time when many on here thought Arteta didn’t rate Saliba, same with Martinelli. I think ESR is in the same boat as those two now, and we need to trust Arteta to develop him the same way he developed those two.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Arteta understood, acknowledged and is now nurturing Saliba’s development but you cannot attribute all of it to him. Saliba played for France before he played his first game for Arsenal. The coach at Marseille when he was there deserves a hefty portion of the credit too.

Man Manny

As a Nigerian, I became an Arsenal fan when Arsene took a punt on Kanu after his heart surgery.
In all these years I am yet to see an Arsenal central defender – arguably in the EPL as a whole – as accomplished as Saliba at his age. The guy is a generational talent. Mislintat will be fondly remembered for this one at least.

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