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William Saliba: I think I’m in the top 3

William Saliba: I think I’m in the top 3
William Saliba: I think I’m in the top 3

Arsenal centre-back William Saliba has declared himself to be one of the top three defenders in the Premier League, despite facing challenges in replicating his club form for the French national team.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: William Saliba and Gabriel of Arsenal celebrate following their sides victory after the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on October 08, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

William Saliba has been a standout performer for Arsenal, playing a crucial role in their Premier League campaign last season, featuring in all 38 matches. His consistently high level of play has earned him the trust of manager Mikel Arteta and solidified his position as one of the Premier League’s top defenders.

“This season, I had a full season,” Saliba told L’Équipe. “I had a very good level. I feel like I’ve reached a milestone in terms of consistency.” He further emphasised his growing impact on the pitch, noting that “attackers feel fear” when facing him. In fact, he stated, “I think I’m in the top three, yes.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: William Saliba of Arsenal celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on November 11, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

However, Saliba acknowledged his difficulties in replicating this form for the French national team, admitting, “I have not yet passed this milestone in the French team.” Despite earning 14 caps, he has yet to deliver a standout performance for Les Bleus, with recent struggles in matches against Germany and Greece highlighting his inconsistency at the international level.

Nevertheless, Saliba remains determined to prove his worth for France, stating, “The last two matches (3-2 against Chile on 26 March, 3-0 against Luxembourg on Wednesday) were better but before that, it was not enough.” He aims to seize any opportunity to impress the national team coach, Didier Deschamps, and cement his place in the starting lineup.

With the established centre-back pairing of Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté facing increased competition, Saliba sees an opportunity to stake his claim for a starting spot at Euro 2024. He remains confident in his abilities and believes that his recent improvement in form for the national team will convince Deschamps of his value.

France play Canada on Sunday at the Stade Matmut-Atlantique, home of FC Girondins, with an 8.15pm UK kick-off, in what is their last friendly before the Euros start this summer.