Arsenal agreed to sign William Saliba last summer in a deal that saw the 18 year-old stay with St Etienne for the current campaign, and expectations are already high ahead of his arrival.
Saliba has been a regular in the first team in Ligue 1 over the last 18 months, apart from a spell where he was sidelined with injury earlier in the campaign, and even played a key role in helping his side to reach the French Coupe de Ligue final this term. It will take another spectacular effort for him to help his side lift the trophy with French giants Paris Saint-German awaiting them in the final, but the match will be of great experience for the 18 year-old regardless.
The France Under-19 international is expected to slot straight into our first team when he joins up with the squad this summer, after his £27 Million move, but French football expert Pierre Menes has warned that the youngster is still raw and inexperienced, and that they should lower their initial expectations of him.
“He is an interesting player, who has the potential to become a big player,” Menes stated.
“Maybe he still lacks a little bit of experience. We saw that with the penalty he gave away in the semi-final of the French Cup.
“Maybe he lacks a bit of speed, but he’s very young. He can obviously improve a lot.
“In any case, he has good positioning, a good reading of the game and, obviously, a physique that helps him a lot.”
Hopefully Saliba will be given time to find his feet in England without the need to rush him into the first-team, but I hope he doesn’t lack the pace needed to do well in the Premier League.
Our division is not one where you can be caught flat-footed in, and you would be silly to expect an 18 year-old to arrive with vast amounts of experience.
Will Saliba command a first-team role from the off? Could Pablo Mari stake a claim for priority with some more top performances this term?