Arteta says Arsenal have a top 21yo who’s been developing ‘without any flashy lights’, could play tomorrow

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has praised Gunners defender William Saliba for going about his business “without any flashy lights”.

The Gunners manager, speaking to football.london, also played down comparisons between Saliba and Virgil van Dijk.

Saliba has enjoyed a sensational breakthrough for Arsenal, helping his side compete for the Premier League title.

The 21-year-old has been on the Gunners’ books since 2019, but has taken in three loan spells since then.

One was at Saint-Etienne, the club from which he joined Arsenal, as part of the £27m deal to take him to the Emirates.

Then, Saliba also went to Nice and to Marseille before becoming a first-team player for the Gunners.

Now, ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League meeting with Liverpool, there have been comparisons between Saliba and Van Dijk.

Arteta has shrugged these off, but he nonetheless believes Saliba is a top talent who’s been going about his business without any fuss.

“I think the way that he’s established himself and the composure he has on the pitch,” he said.

“He’s done it in a really natural way, without any flashy lights, just being himself, being very quiet and at the same time very confident.”

When asked about comparisons with Van Dijk, Arteta replied: “Wow, that’s a big question!

“I’m really happy with where he is at the moment. He’s Saliba, he’s no one else, and he needs to make his own career.”

All good things to those who wait – our View

Arteta received fierce criticism for holding back on Saliba so long.

The youngster took in two additional loan spells – beyond his Saint-Etienne stint – while on Arsenal’s books.

But Arteta knew what he was doing, letting Saliba hone his skills in a slightly lower-pressure environment than the Premier League.

And in France, Saliba went from a promising prospect to a star in the making over the past three years.

Now, you won’t find many fans criticising the Arsenal boss for his approach towards Saliba.