Speaking in an interview on Telefoot on Sunday morning, Didier Deschamps had plenty of positive things to say about Arsenal’s William Saliba.
“He’s a true defender,” Deschamps began. “He has this ability in duels, he’s quick and he’s good with his head. He’s someone who’s calm, unfazed, and has a lot of maturity.”
It looks as though the France boss is ready to back up those words with his actions, starting Saliba against Croatia on Monday night.
L’Equipe report that Saliba could form part of a back-four in light of the latest absences for the side.
Arsenal fans will be watching on with a bit more excitement than usual, given Saliba’s recent comments that he wants to return to North London and impress with the Gunners.
Saliba is under contract with Arsenal until 2024, but his strong loan spell with Marseille had raised the possibility that he could return to the French club on a permanent basis – particularly after they qualified for the Champions League.
Yet Saliba suggested his immediate focus is on Arsenal, where he still has something to prove.
“I belong to Arsenal,” Saliba said. “I still have two years left. I will be at pre-season with Arsenal.
“I have played zero matches and I still want to show them my true face and have the chance to play for these fans and this great club.”
L’Equipe report that Arsenal plan to keep William Saliba this summer and extend his contract.
Arsenal’s reported stance seems to be backed up by Mikel Arteta’s recent quotes on the subject, speaking to RMC Sport.
“He has to come back,” Arteta said. “He has the experience and the necessary environment to be competitive with us.
“If he had stayed with us this year, with one Premier League game a week and with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn’t have had half the game time he had with Marseille, that’s for sure.
“In terms of his growth and what he could do next year, it wouldn’t have been good. William wasn’t with us because he wouldn’t have had the playing time required to gain experience. That’s it, nothing else.”
A France international and Young Player of the Year award winner coming off the back of a 51-game season with a top-two club in Ligue 1 at just 21 years old, Saliba’s future gives us plenty to be excited about.