Premier League giants Arsenal pulled off a coup when they signed William Saliba from Ligue 1 strugglers St Etienne; will he be Mikel Arteta’s number one?
Bacary Sagna has tipped William Saliba to become a bona fide Premier League star at Arsenal as the young defender prepares for life at the Emirates Stadium, while speaking to Goal.
Last summer, the Gunners fought off competition from a host of top European clubs to win the race for one of the most highly-rated teenagers on the continent.
The fact that they were willing to pay a staggering £27 million for a then-18-year-old prospect speaks volumes about his potential.
And hopes are high that Saliba, once he makes his belated move to North London after a season on loan at St Etienne, can quickly develop into the top-quality defensive talent Arsenal have needed for years.
Fellow Frenchman Sagna, who was included in the PFA Team of the Year twice during a stellar career at the Emirates, believes his former employers might just have a star on their hands.
“He is a big prospect for the future but Arsenal need him to perform as soon as he starts,” said the one-time fan favourite.
“He is aware of that probably, but he has a lot of qualities and he will learn fast. Hopefully he will achieve good things and become one of the best centre-backs in the league.
“He is very confident in defending, he is not afraid to defend one against one and most of the time he wins the duels, which is the best quality as a defender. You need some security, you need some presence and he has that.
“If he [Saliba] believes he can be as good as Van Dijk, he’s probably been watching his games and analysing them. It’s about hard work. If you want to be the best at the back, it’s all about work and belief.”
It remains to be seen whether Mikel Arteta would be willing to catapult Saliba straight into the starting XI next season.
David Luiz and Pablo Mari have formed a useful looking partnership under the Spaniard in recent times though the former will turn 33 in April while the latter is only on loan from Flamengo.