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Saliba likened to Van Dijk and backed to ‘make a solid case for himself’

William Saliba - Arsenal
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The out-of-favor Arsenal defender has been tipped to follow in the footsteps of a distinguished opposite number.

William Saliba has been backed to “come good” and “make a solid case for himself” next season.

Saliba joined Arsenal in a £27 million deal in the summer of 2019. It was expected he would gradually develop into a starter for the club, but he was shunned by manager Mikel Arteta.

The 20-year-old center-back made just two appearances for Arsenal, both of which came for their U23 team and not the first team. He has been sent on loan to three different Ligue 1 clubs ever since his signature and is currently at Olympique Marseille.

Despite seemingly not being highly rated by Arteta, the defender has been backed to make it into the Gunners team in 2022-23 by fitness coach Nicolas St-Maurice.

“He’s a very nice guy, very hard working,” St-Maurice, whose clients also include Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, told football.london.

“We worked on a number of things such as speed, power, you know he’s a big guy also and he’s strong. When you’re so young and you’re big and strong you aren’t as quick as the smaller guys. We worked a bit on that and he did really well.

“When I first saw him I thought of Van Dijk because of his positions of plays and he has the right potential to make it far.

“I know a lot of young players, I can see that some get distracted when they come to Dubai but he was working hard and he’s got the right environment.

“William is humble. Arsenal fans are annoyed right now because he’s not at the club and he’s doing really well in Marseille but I think last season he missed some games on top of Covid.

“Saliba needs to play more and he will come good. He does not want to come to Arsenal and sit on the bench – that’s not his mentality. He wants to be playing for Arsenal. I think next season he will make a solid case for himself.“