William Saliba signed for Arsenal on July 25, 2019, and has been loaned back to Saint Etienne for the 2019/20 season. so who is William Saliba? what are his strengths and what can Arsenal fans expect from him?
According to a recent report, Paris is responsible for producing the most number of players playing across Europe’s top five leagues. William Saliba is one of the interesting prospects coming out from the suburbs near Paris. Saliba was born in Bondy, France on 24th March 2001 and started playing football at the age of six. He was coached by the father of PSG star Kylian Mbappe at an early age. He signed his first professional contract with Saint Etienne in May 2018 after playing for their youth teams for two years. He is dubbed as the ‘new Raphael Varane’.
William Saliba plays as a central defender and is comfortable playing in a back three or a double-pivot. Saliba has shown maturity well beyond his age and he is comfortable playing out from the back. His concentration is one of his key strengths and he is comfortable to tackle the ball without making rash decisions. His recovery pace helps him to bail out of dangerous situations while his ability to cover for other defenders is a promising sign at such a tender age. One of the aspects that the young Frenchman could improve is his ability to utilize his body and strength in certain situations where he could be found guilty of letting his opponents go away too easily. For a player of his height, he loses too many aerial duels but it might be something that would come with age and experience.
Saint Etienne signed William Saliba as a youth player in 2016 and awarded him with a professional contract two years later after the young defender had constantly impressed for the Les Verts youth sides. Although Saliba is eligible to play for Cameroon too, he opted to play for France. He has represented them across all youth levels from U16’s to U19’s. He has had a sensational breakthrough season with Saint Etienne and attracted the interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs which led Arsenal to sign the young Frenchman.
Find out about another promising French centre back: Dayot Upamecano
William Saliba made a total of 19 appearances for the Les Verts in 2018/19 season. He started on 13 occasions during this period. During this period, he has averaged more than 2 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game. His composure and calm playing style have meant that he has only been cautioned once his professional career. A pass completion rate of more than 85% also suggests his ability on the ball while he completes around 0.7 dribbles per game, meaning he could progress the ball from behind.