Mikel Arteta is wary of being drawn into a William Saliba vs Virgil van Dijk debate, with the Arsenal boss eager to avoid answering a “big question”.
- French defender has starred for Gunners
- Being compared to Liverpool superstar
- Boss urging him to remain his own man
WHAT HAPPENED? The Gunners have benefited considerably from having Saliba back on their books for the 2022-23 campaign, with the 21-year-old centre-half having grown as a player and person across three loan spells away from Emirates Stadium. He is now a key component at the heart of Arteta’s defensive unit, with a collection of eye-catching displays leading some to suggest that he now occupies a talent bracket once dominated by Liverpool superstar Van Dijk.
WHAT THEY SAID: When asked if such a big billing is deserved and whether Saliba can go on to emulate the achievements of a Premier League title-winning Dutchman, Arteta said: “Wow, that’s a really big question. I am really happy with where he is at the moment. He is Saliba, he’s no-one else and he needs to make his own career.”
Asked what he feels Saliba is doing well, Arteta added: “The way he has established himself. The composure and leadership he has shown on the pitch. And then that he has done it in a really natural way without any flashing lights, just being himself. He’s very quiet and at the same time very confident.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Saliba was waiting on a competitive debut for Arsenal when he returned to north London over the summer, but he is now up to eight appearances and two goals for the Gunners while also playing himself into contention for a new contract.
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WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL? The Gunners, who find themselves top of the Premier League table after taking seven wins from eight games so far, will be back in domestic action on Sunday when playing host to Liverpool.
Heading to the top 📈
How good can Saliba become?