William Saliba says starting in the World Cup for France is a dream for him as he continues his impressive form with Premier League leaders Arsenal.
Three years after his £25m move from Saint-Etienne, the centre-back has finally broken into Arsenal’s first team, starting all seven of Arsenal’s Premier League games so far this season and scoring two goals – most recently in their 3-0 win over Brentford in Super Sunday.
Saliba has been called up to France’s squad for Nations League matches against Austria and Denmark this month, having already played five times by Didier Deschamps – and the 21-year-old is targeting a springboard when the World Cup gets underway. November.
Saliba said exclusively, “When you represent your country, it’s amazing.” Sky Sports Super Sunday last week.
“My dream is to play in the World Cup with my country and I hope to be part of the team that will participate in the World Cup.”
Saliba has been backed by Brentford coach Thomas Frank into becoming a key France defender, after watching him score against his side at the weekend.
“I have to say Saliba, Off! He will be a full international for France, I’m sure,” Frank said in his post-match press conference. “He will play in the starting lineup soon for this national team and this is a strong national team.”
Saliba’s competition in the center of France’s defense includes Manchester United defender Raphael Varane, Barcelona’s Jules Conde, Bayern Munich’s Dayo Obekano and Monaco’s Benoit Badiachel.
The likes of Clement Lenglet, Kurt Zouma, Presnel Kimpembe and Ibrahima Konate have also been called up by Les Bleus in recent months.
Nick Wright from Sky Sports:
William Saliba was hundreds of miles away, literally, and perhaps figuratively, when Arsenal suffered their shameful 2-0 defeat at Brentford last season. But he’s here now. You really can’t miss him at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday.
The Frenchman, who has been fantastic all season after spending the previous season on loan with Marseille, produced his best performance yet to help Arsenal win 3-0 underlining his transformation over the past year.
His goal, his second of the season after his impressive finish against Bournemouth, showed his aerial threat from set-piece positions, and I saw him towering in from Bukayo Saka’s corner kick bouncing off the post and over the line.
But it was everything else he did – the “ugly” things, as Mikel Arteta later described them – that really made his performance stand out. Evan Toni left Arsenal traumatized in this match last year. This time, Saliba controlled him from the start.
The 21-year-old was a giant, winning duels, eliminating danger and ensuring that a team that scored five goals in their last home game this time around could only have two shots on target.
Even Brentford coach Thomas Frank couldn’t help but wow, using his post-match press conference to praise the centre-back’s performance. “He will play in the starting line-up for France and this is a strong international team,” he said.
Saliba enjoyed his physical battle with Tony and was impressive on the ball, calming in the face of Brentford pressure, at times swinging away from deep challenges in his own half before sending Arsenal forward in attack.
His presence is not the only reason for Arsenal’s turnaround. Gabriel Jesus’ influence was similarly significant, and Fabio Vieira, another summer signature, provided a glimpse into his class on Sunday as well. But Saliba, Arsenal’s new giant, is the best showing how far they have progressed.