Saliba stars against Messi and co.
William Saliba has not played a competitive minute for Arsenal since he joined the club in 2018 from Saint Etienne, instead finding himself loaned out on three occasions.
The defender, still just 20-years-old, is plying his trade with Ligue 1 Marseilles this campaign, and has impressed under Jorge Sampaoli’s stewardship.
Marseilles welcomed Paris Saint Germain to the Stade Veledrome in the latest round of Ligue 1 fixtures, meaning that Saliba found himself facing off against Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi, a test for any defender.
It was, however, one that he passed with flying colours, keeping a clean sheet and having his customary poise on the ball.
William Saliba’s game by numbers vs. PSG:
◉ 96% pass accuracy
◉ 83% duel success
◉ 75% true tackle success
◎ 57 passes
◎ 6 duels
◎ 4 tackles attempted
◎ 1 last-man tackle
◎ 0 fouls
A clean sheet in #LeClassique pic.twitter.com/iRYUZvDyjL
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 24, 2021
Arsenal fans in particular were keen to point to a brilliant last man tackle that the man once dubbed the “Mbappe of centrebacks” made on Mbappe, who otherwise would likely have scored.
This tackle from William Saliba on Kylian Mbappe 👏 pic.twitter.com/xISzeO00qm
— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) October 25, 2021
It has even led to some Arsenal fans questioning why the Frenchman was allowed to leave on loan at all last summer.
Saliba deemed not ready
Of course, tackles such as that will make a pretty highlights reel, but ultimately the majority of Arsenal fans will not have watched every game Saliba has taken part in this campaign.
One man who has watched a lot of them, however, is BT Sport commentator Jonathan Pearce. Pearce covers both Ligue 1 games and Premier League clashes, so has a good understanding of what is needed to be successful in both divisions.
Speaking in commentary during the game, the pundit argued that despite his good form, Saliba was not ready for the Premier League. Pearce claimed:
“Saliba is not ready for the Premier League. He makes too many mistakes.”
Should the Frenchman get a full season of action under his belt for Marseilles, he could well be ready to play some part in Mikel Arteta’s squad next season.