11 amazing quotes about Arsenal’s William Saliba

Arsenal defender William Saliba has performed so well on loan at Marseille this season that he has been showered with compliments – and Real Madrid are reportedly interested in signing him.

After previous loan spells at Saint Etienne and Nice, Saliba was sent on his third Ligue 1 loan spell in August – the move by Mikel Arteta raising many eyebrows among Arsenal support.

We’ve collected 11 incredible quotes from players, coaches, pundits and journalists that highlight the impact Saliba has had at Marseille this season.

Stephy Mavididi

Mavididi, a former Arsenal player who is taking Ligue 1 by storm for Montpellier this season, has questioned Arsenal’s decision to loan Saliba out for a third time.

He had some positive things to say about the 20-year-old centre-back that he simply says: “How come this guy doesn’t play at Arsenal?”

Speaking in an interview with LiveScore, the 23-year-old striker said: “This guy is a player. He is by far one of the best defenders in the league, hands down.

“I think he’ll be back in the Arsenal team next season. When I played against him last year I was like ‘How come this guy isn’t playing for Arsenal?’

“He is strong, good on the ball, he reads the game well.

“Sometimes you walk off the pitch and think ‘fair play, respect’ – the defender followed you, beat you, left you, you have to say fair play, this guy is a good player.”

“He’s one of the best centre-backs I’ve faced,” he added. “Everyone can talk about Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Jérôme Boateng, but he is up there.

“He’s the one that surprised me the most. I’m also an Arsenal fan and playing against Saliba I thought we had a very good defender here.

READ: Arsenal fans look away as Stephy Mavididi has become a hero in France

Ian Wright

Speaking to Premier League Productions after Arsenal’s hammering at Manchester City in August, Wright was confused by Arsenal’s decision to loan Salbia.

“I’m supposed to believe that Kolasinac – someone they’re trying to get rid of – is better than William Saliba?” he asked. “Saliba, who is on loan and apparently not at [required] Standard.

“So if [Saliba] is not at the level to play in this team – and Kolasinac can play – why did we buy him? Because if Kolasinac can play in front of him, what happens? Why did we buy it?

The Team

The Arsenal defender made the cover of sports newspaper L’Equipe in November 2021.

The photo showed him at his best, all muscle and physical power, and the title described him as the “rock” of Marseille. The cover also describes him as “indispensable” by his side, highlighting the impact he has had in France this season.

Jorge Sampaoli

“He is a top player in his position. We were lucky to have him on loan, it wasn’t easy,” Sampaoli told reporters in September after Saliba made an eye-catching start at the Stade Velodrome.

“He’s great at scoring, but good at getting the ball out too. He is a future great in French football, he is very good at starting out.

“He has adapted well to a three in defense, and his performance is linked to that of the team, which likes to play in defence.”

Matt Spiro

“It’s disconcerting. He was not Arteta’s signature. Unai Emery was there when they signed him. But when Arteta says he’s not ready for the Premier League, it irritates a bit because it’s a line that is swallowed too easily.

“The Premier League is very intense but Wesley Fofana has fitted in easily at Leicester. He is the comparison.

“Last season was all the more confusing as we watched David Luiz, Pablo Mari and Rob Holding play for Arsenal.

“If Arsenal had two or three outstanding central defenders, you could understand that. But last season, I have no doubt that Saliba could have done a good job for Arsenal.

“Now Arteta says he needs to work on his game. But Ben White also has things he needs to work on. All I know is that he is ready for the Premier League.

Dimitri Payet

Earlier this season, Payet told L’Equipe (via Sport Witness): “The new guys have all brought something different. Afterwards, I got closer to the younger players.

“So the one who impresses me the most is ‘Willie’ (William Saliba). Considering what he’s been doing since the start of the season, I don’t understand why he hasn’t played more for Arsenal.

Payet has Premier League experience with West Ham himself and probably knows what it takes to succeed in the division – and has identified Saliba as possessing the potential to do so.

Samir Nasri

Nasri, speaking to Marseille’s official YouTube channel in October, said: “He has all the qualities to play in the Premier League. He’s well built, quick and a good passer too.

“I see no reason why he shouldn’t be in the Arsenal team.”

The former midfielder was an icon for the Gunners and Marseille and his assessment of Saliba would have caught the attention of many.

Nicolas St-Maurice

St-Maurice, known as ‘The Power Coach’, is renowned for improving the explosiveness of elite athletes – and has previously worked with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

“He’s a very nice guy, works very hard,” he told Football London last September. “We worked on a number of things such as speed, power, you know, he’s also a big guy and he’s strong.

“When you’re so young and big and strong, you’re not as quick as the smaller guys. We worked on it a bit and it came out really well.

“When I first saw him I thought of Van Dijk because of his playing positions and he has the right potential to go far.

“I know a lot of young players, I can see some are distracted when they come to Dubai, but he worked hard and he had the right environment.

“Guillaume is humble. Arsenal fans are annoyed at the moment because he is not at the club and he is doing very well in Marseille but I think last season he missed a few games in addition to COVID. Saliba needs to play more and he will come fine.

“He doesn’t want to come to Arsenal and sit on the bench – that’s not his mentality. He wants to play for Arsenal. I think next season he will make a solid case for himself.

Loic Perrin

Perrin, Saliba’s former team-mate at Saint Etienne, is another player who doesn’t understand why Arteta loaned out his young defender.

“I don’t understand how they haven’t even tried it at least once,” he said last August.

“When you observe him since his debut at Saint-Etienne… He is calm, cold, lucid. In one-on-one situations, he has extraordinary footwork and always pulls through.

“Plus, he’s a great boy to have in a band. In Nice, after many months without playing, he was immediately good when Nice was in bad shape.

“And in Marseille, in an atmosphere of madness, same thing. He doesn’t get carried away. He could have given something to Arsenal.

Adrien Ursee

“He’s already a leader,” Nice boss Ursea said last season. “William gives a lot of personality.

“That assurance can be seen from the videos we watched with him and we can see it daily.

“It is true that from the point of view of a young player who has arrived, leading the defense like this already in the way he has done is surprising.

“You have to understand that surprised me as well. It feels like he’s been there for a while. He’s going to help his teammates, he’s very interested in the game and he shows a lot of maturity.”

Robin Bainer

“It should be noted that Marseille play in a very open style, which makes it quite difficult for the defenders,” said Bairner, a French football expert and regular Goal contributor.

“New signing Luan Peres, for example, struggled to fit into the style and was carried to some extent by those around him, including Saliba. Sometimes he did the job of two.

“He’s already a popular figure and when he made mistakes – and there were some big ones – these were quickly forgiven because he was able to get the team out of trouble so consistently.”

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