The Frenchman was the Man of the Match on the opening night of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.
It’s unbelievable to see the turnaround in William Saliba’s career at Arsenal.
From rumours early on in the summer transfer window that he could seal a permanent Marseille move this summer to now where he started and earned Man of the Match on his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace, Arsenal really could have the next coming of Rio Ferdinand on their hands – at least according to Gary Neville.
“He reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand and he will become stronger and his body will become more coordinated, he’s such a young centre-back. Crystal Palace away is a tough game, they throw everything at you, they drive at you all the time, that’s a big night for him,” Neville said after the game.
“The most important thing for young players is to play football, they get stuck in between first-team and reserves, he’s got football inside him. Look, I was massively impressed by him.”
It’s a testament to technical director Edu and manager Mikel Arteta that the 21-year-old’s trajectory is now so high after the temporary two-year exile has reaped its awards very early on for the Frenchman, who is destined to now have a big future in English football.
His performance was so impressive that football.london rated Saliba the highest score in the player ratings from the contest at Selhurst Park on Friday night. ‘Such an impressive Premier League debut from the Frenchman who was assured throughout against a tricky Palace attack. Rarely forced into last ditch defending because of his excellent positioning, but pulled it off sublimely when needed. 8.’
After his debut on the Friday Night Football, alongside assessing his own performance and the team as a collective, Arsenal’s No.12 then went on to make a statement that vindicated Edu’s controversial decision to not integrate the defender upon his arrival from Ligue 1 back in 2019.
“Very happy to win today, we concede some chances but we were strong and solid,” Saliba told Sky Sports. “It is like this it is the first game, we knew it would be hard here. We stayed compact and it’s good for the debut
“Long time waiting for this moment, I’m so happy to start my first game with a win and a clean sheet. It helped me spending two years on loan in France because I’m young and need to play. But I’m back and I hope we make a good season
“It’s never easy, we have to give the maximum of yourself and it’s good. It’s the first game, it’s important to win for the confidence. We start well this season.”