William Saliba finally made his debut for Arsenal on Friday night.
The Gunners kicked off the Premier League campaign with a 2-0 victory away to Crystal Palace.
Saliba has been among Arsenal’s top performers throughout the pre-season campaign and his powerful, dominant performance at Selhurst Park isn’t entirely surprising.
Despite joining the North Londoners over three years ago, this was the 21-year-old’s first competitive appearance for the Emirates Stadium outfit – and it was worth the wait.
Saliba has enjoyed two stellar loan spells in Ligue 1 – including Marseille last season – and those stints appear to have adequately prepared him for England’s top flight.
The France international has been so impressive to Mikel Arteta, in fact, that the Spanish manager played him in central defence ahead of Ben White last night, with the Englishman forced to play as a right-back instead.
And Gary Neville, speaking to Sky Sports last night, claims that fact is an achievement in itself, considering how good White – a £50 million signing by Arsenal – was last season.
He said before the Palace victory, referencing the team sheet: “Every team has to be strong defensively. Mikel Arteta can’t afford to have a defence that’s wobbling all the time. Saliba, he’s pushed Ben White, a £50 million signing, out to right-back which is an achievement in itself.”
It’ll be fascinating to see what Arteta does over the coming weeks, when Takehiro Tomiyasu is fit again.
The Japan international is undeniably Arsenal’s best option at right-back but if Saliba continues to impress alongside Gabriel Magalhaes, well it’s very possible that White will find himself on the bench for a time going forward.