Arsenal need a few quality defenders to refresh their defence in the summer transfer window, which will be one of the priorities for manager Unai Emery.
Now, Emery is reportedly keen on signing highly-rated defender William Saliba, who recently turned 18 and currently plays for French club Saint-Étienne.
According to Daily Star, Saliba is on Arsenal’s radar, and the Gunners might offer £26 million to sign the teenage defender, but have to fend off interest from Premier League rivals Manchester United.
Former Arsenal defender Lauren spoke highly of the 18-year-old, and that he could become an important player: “He looks a very good player. Strong, tall, can come out of the back with the ball and an international for France.
“He reads the game very well, which is important for a player at the back, you have to anticipate and he looks very good at just 18, so the future is bright!”
Saliba made his first-team debut in 2018 for Saint-Etienne at 17 years of age and went on to play 19 games in all competitions. The Frenchman played as a centre-back and as a right back in the 2018-19 season, helping the French side to fourth place in Ligue 1.
Why Saliba would be a good option for Emery
The towering centre-back, who stands at 6’4″ is good on the ball at the back and has good pace to intercept passes as well as move the ball up the pitch. Saliba tackles aggressively and closes down the opposition quickly.
The teenager’s height also helps him have an aerial presence. For a young player, Saliba has good positional sense which has probably resulted in top clubs in Europe chasing him.
Emery should make a move for the youngster, who could be a phenomenal player for the Gunners, and a £26 million price tag seems like a steal considering he could be a key player for Arsenal for the next decade if he does fit in well in the Arsenal team.
The 18-year old managed 2 tackles and 1.8 interceptions in Ligue 1, and is a physical centre-back who can play, something Emery needs to implement his patient build-up play from the back.
Saliba could be groomed to become Arsenal’s No. 1 centre-back for years to come and a successor to Arsenal captain and central defender Laurent Koscielny.
Stats via Whoscored, Image via Asse.fr