William Saliba will arrive at Arsenal this summer.
There’s a chance the date will be delayed if seasons around Europe are set to try and complete the matches remaining, but Saliba will, sooner or later, finally start his career with the Gunners.
Arsenal agreed a deal with Saint-Etienne last summer, fighting off strong competition for the defender. One of the reasons the Premier League club won the battle is them allowing Saliba to continue at ASSE this season.
That benefitted Saint-Etienne, but also the player and the club which will be his new home. Away from the pressures of English football, and trials at Arsenal during this campaign, the 19 year old has been able to further progress.
Unfortunately, he’s missed chunks of the season due to a muscle injury and then a fracture, but was in top shape just before the football was called to a temporary end.
Fabio Frasconi, who coached Saliba at U12 and U13 level with Bondy, has been speaking to the Saint-Etienne website, and explained just how highly he thinks of the player: “William will go far, very far. He reminds me of Raphaël Varane. As a kid, he was already above the lot, technically clean, comfortable with the ball. I had positioned him at the centre forward position. Evolving then in central defence would not have allowed him, in my opinion, to progress. I feel enormous pride when I see him playing at this level, with this composure, this maturity, this accuracy, this sense of anticipation and this application.”
It’s the attitude which sticks out for Frasconi, and he went on to say: “I have never seen a kid have such a desire to succeed. He wanted, from an early age, to be a professional footballer, already hated defeat, transcended himself. When the opponent was superior, he knew how to give himself, showing the example for the good of the team. How many times he changed the course of a match!
“Between us, moreover, it goes far beyond the simple educator-player relationship. A real relationship of trust has been established. I made him understand that education was important, that it had to be structured, to be attentive to his diet if he intended to go the course.”
It worked out pretty well, and Arsenal will hope they’ll soon benefit.