Friday, June 21, 2024

Saliba keen to emulate Van Dijk’s aura, ranks himself amongst top defenders

A week out from the start of Euro 2024, William Saliba has sent a message to the France hierarchy by declaring himself one of the three best defenders in the Premier League.

In all likelihood, the Arsenal centre-back will start the tournament on the bench – he admits he’s still not done enough to win over head coach Didier Deschamps – but as he goes from strength to strength in England, it’s clear the 23-year-old is growing in self-belief.

Saliba played every single minute of the Gunners’ Premier League campaign, helping his team to 18 clean sheets, the best in the division, as they challenged for the title for a second year in a row.

At times, the young defender was unplayable, particularly impressing in tight showdowns with Big Six rivals.

“I think I am in the top three [defenders in the league],” he told L’Equipe.

“We finished with the best defence. I watch a lot of matches. I am a very humble person but last season, just like this season, I am in the top three defenders.

“I need to continue to work to go even higher […] in terms of concentration, I am a lot better. Before, I could play a top match but in one phase of play, I slept a bit. That is no longer the case. I am always on alert.”

In terms of inspiration, it’s clear Saliba holds Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk in high esteem. The Dutchman’s arrival at Anfield from Celtic in 2017 propelled the Reds to another level and you sense the Frenchman is working on having the same impact at the Emirates.

“Van Dijk has aura. He’s the boss. He commands everything,” he said. “You can feel he’s scaring strikers away. And I’m starting to feel the same way.”

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Johnny 4 Hats

The only flowers Don Raul will ever get from Arsenal fans.


We’ve finally got a new David O’Leary 🤗


Love him. Hope he has a good tournament.
By the way, I’m pretty sure VvD went from Celtic to Southampton then to Liverpool.

I miss santi cazorla

Southampton is where from they built that pool team. Lallana, Mane, Clyne, VvD and a few more.

Sean Johansen

Who could forget Rickie Lambert of course. Never mind the VVD aura- the Southampton aura of 10 years ago made literally any of there players feel like a must sign. I was gutted when we missed out on Morgan Schneiderlin…

Johnny 4 Hats

Everyone needs a feeder club.

Thanks Chelsea.

9ja pikin



He was from Sunderland not Southampton.


Music to my ears.


If Gabriel Magalhaes was French rather than Brazilian, Deschamps wouldn’t hesitate to play Saliba alongside him as France’s first choice centre halves.


Well said! We fans and the madia also talk a bit more about Saliba, but I think Big Gabriel is a monster too. I remember how Arteta’s experiment at the begining of the season fell through when he thought it was a good idea to leave the brazilian out.

Le Groove

That wasn’t some ‘galaxy brain’ experiment; critics spread this bit of misinformation to serve their agenda. To set the record straight – Gabi’s head had been turned by his agent flirting with the allure of big Saudi money. Arteta benched him for those 3 games in a massively badly wake tf up move and brilliant man management. Gabi discovered his priorities and focus and drive and went on to have the best season of his career by far, so far. Big Gabi has publicly acknowledged Arteta for setting him straight and helping him grow to be a better man. Once… Read more »


His experiment of trying to clear Gabis head after it was turned upside down by the Saudi’s?


If any player epitomises the “courage” and “balls” Mikel has often said he wants in his players it’s this guy. Sometimes he does moves in our own box under opposition pressure that make my liver and kidneys change places and dance around each other in circles, but he’s sooo damn elegant and confident and never even remotely seems as anxious about himself, it just comes completely naturally to him and I think only once this whole season did he get caught out on one of these, despite playing every game, all game and doing something like that again least once… Read more »


Not aura. Big wilo style.


Well, if he hasn’t yet done enough to impress Didier Deschamps, there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn.

Deschamps is a bit of a knob.


Yes but as I don’t give a shit about France, I’m kinda glad Saliba won’t be playing tons of minutes


As a Frenchman, that’s exactly what Deschamps is. He was in love with Rabiot and played him no matter what. Now for some reason he doesn’t trust Saliba nearly as much as he should.

Emi Rates

That has a ring of Southgate’s mysterious trust in Maguire to it. Difference being that France are true challengers while England always fall short. I’m not English or French but I might choose France as my team this tournament if they play the attractive football I’ve come to associate them with.


Top 3 defenders in the league:

Cranky Colin

And Tomi


I love Tomi too, but its hard to squeeze them all into the top 3


Saliba is a Rolls Royce. Can you even believe now that we were debating two years ago whether or not he would ever get a minute for our first team? They guy is 23. If he were a striker, we would be comparing him to Dennis Bergkamp. He is that good.


So, this post has nothing to do with the article. I am a day late with sharing my post here. It was a brilliant season for AFC,, we pushed the dark-side all the way, til the last day. We even had those, what, 15 mins at 1-1 and 2-1 for them? Of more hope, until the last day. What other team in the PL with any trophy has had as much joy as us the last season, or the season before? If your joy is measured by shiny things, I’d usually tell you to go fuck yourself – but I… Read more »


I’m with Deschamps. I hope Saliba he doesn’t play a single minute and enjoys his relaxing vacation in Germany. Vive la Deschamps!!!

A Different George

I was wondering why Saliba said top 3 in the league rather than top 2. My theory: if he said top 2 (since Van Dijk is obviously the other one), that would be saying : “I am better than my teammate Konaté,” which is clearly true and probably not something you want to say.

Spanish Gooner

Could equally apply the same but for Gabriel

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