Michael Owen has been left stunned by the performances William Saliba is putting up for Arsenal and claimed that the centre-back is heading towards becoming ‘world-class’.
The former England striker added that the 21-year-old is a ‘serious’ player and the Frenchman impressed Owen during Arsenal’s win in the north London derby over Tottenham on Saturday, as he told The Final Word on Premier League Productions (03/10/22 at 10:50 pm).
Mikel Arteta watched his side put in a strong display in a big game at the top of the Premier League table, which kept the Gunners ahead of current champions and free-scoring Manchester City.
Even though Saliba signed for the Gunners in 2019, it wasn’t only until August 2022 that he made his senior debut for the club and it was worth the wait for those fans.
Many felt that Saliba should have been given a chance way before, but Arteta kept his cool, did things his way and now he is reaping the rewards for it.
And whilst Arsenal fans are enjoying the Frenchman’s performances, so is former Premier League striker Owen, who thinks the speedster can reach serious levels during his career.
“I think most people have noticed Saliba,” said Owen. “He is a terrific player. He’s fast becoming a crowd favourite and a serious player.
“If he continues the road he is on, then we are going to be talking about this lad being world-class because his performances have been stunning so far.
“He didn’t have an easy task marking Mr Kane. But, for starters, he’s not worried. This reminds me of a Van Dijk (Saliba covering Arsenal’s defensive third, high-up the pitch, whilst the full-backs are up). These experienced players that have got speed as well, can be really aggressive, because, even if they get turned, then they have the pace to get back, so he’s not bothered about what’s behind him.
“The speed of him getting back, this is unbelievable, he gets back and recovers (to tackle Harry Kane), so even when he does make the odd lapse in concentration, he has loads of speed to get himself out – he’s a top-class prospect and it’s really encouraging for Arsenal fans.”
ARTETA DESERVES CREDIT FOR SALIBA MANAGEMENT
This seems like the reverse version of Phil Foden at Manchester City. When the English teenager was coming through, there were cries for the playmaker to be loaned out, so he can learn his trade.
Pep Guardiola refused and felt that his best footballing education was being had in the colours of Manchester City where he was surrounded by world-class stars.
Arteta didn’t have those superstar players at Arsenal, in fact, he had players who were seriously, seriously struggling and new life needed injecting into the team.
Given some of the mistakes senior players were making, fans were calling for Saliba to be handed a chance during dark periods for the club, but Arteta refused, allowed him to mature elsewhere and now that education has worked wonders because he is looking like a player of high, high quality.