Following Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League next season, it’s safe to say that the Gunners need to upgrade their squad, especially their defence. However, Unai Emery doesn’t have a lucrative transfer budget this summer so the club appears to be on the lookout for some rising stars in Europe in a bid to bolster their defensive options.
According to reports, Arsenal have identified Ligue 1 club Saint-Étienne’s 18-year-old centre-back William Saliba as their number one defensive target in the transfer window. The teenager has enjoyed a breakout season for the Les Verts after making his senior debut on 25 September 2018, he went on to make 18 more appearances for the historic French club. He earned rave reviews for his performances and has even been compared to French centre-back Raphael Varane for his playing style.
It is widely reported that the north-London club has agreed personal terms with the highly rated teenager as he’s eager to move to the Emirates on a five-year deal, All that’s left is for Arsenal is to agree on a fee and with Saint-Étienne, fans and punters are already betting on him to join Arsenal in the upcoming season.
Born on March 24, 2001, in France, William Alain Andre Gabriel Saliba is of Cameroonian descent. He hails from Bondy, the same commune as Kylian Mbappe and was being coached by the World Cup winner’s father Wilfried Mbappe from a very young age. He spent six years in the local club AS Bondy before moving on to FC Montfermeil when he was 13.
After some impressive performances for FC Montfermeil’s academy team, he was selected for the French U-16 side and went on to play for other age groups for his country. Saliba signed his first contract at the age of 17, on 30 May 2018, when he signed for Saint-Étienne.
It has been a breakout season for the youngster after making his senior debut for Saint-Étienne in a 3-2 win over Toulouse on 25 September 2018, he went on to make 15 more appearances in French football’s top flight. Since the start of 2019 Saliba became a regular in Jean Louis Gasset ‘s team which finished fourth in Ligue 1. He only missed three of the last 10 Ligue 1 games.
He also has a strong physical presence which makes him a commanding centre-back. Saliba is also extremely quick for a centre-back. However, it’s his ball carrying and super passing ability that makes him a fit in Unai Emery’s high pressing-build from the back system.
Arsenal are not favourites for the upcoming season trophy by the football betting sites, However, new arrivals such as Saliba will surely improve overall playing ability of the team, so both bookies and fans will look forward to it.
Saliba also showed his positional versatility as he also played as a right-back. He was predominantly tasked with keeping the opposition attackers at bay. The teenager averaged 2 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game in Ligue 1 and had only been shown one yellow card in 16 matches. On the ball he’s very composed and can only improve, he also averages 0.1 key passes per game with 85.6% pass accuracy while attempting 2.9 long balls per game.