”I am in The Top Three Defenders in The Premier League,” William Saliba Boasts, Names Favourite Defender

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Arsenal and France centre-back William Saliba has spoken highly of himself after an improved campaign with Arsenal in the Premier League.

In an interview with L’Equipe while on international duty with France for Euro 2024, the prolific defender boasted he is among the top three defenders in the Premier League.

On why he categorized himself among the best the Premier League produced last season, the 23-year-old said his team, Arsenal, had the best defence in the campaign.

”I think I am in the top three [defenders in the league],” he said. “We finished with the best defence. I watch a lot of matches. I am a very humble person but last season, just like this season, I am in the top three defenders.”

Arsenal lost the Premier League title to Manchester City towards the end of the campaign but it was a hugely more impressive campaign for the Gunners. Saliba proved crucial in the running for the London outfit, thanks to his prolific defensive pairing with Brazil international Gabriel Magalhaes.

Arsenal had one of the best goal difference in the campaign, boasting the same number (+62) as winners Manchester City. Notably, they conceded 29 goals, five goals less than Manchester City, thanks to a pretty great job by Saliba and his colleagues at the Gunners’ defence.

Saliba’s mastery of his craft and defensive skills were more glaring when Arsenal battled Manchester City in the Premier League return leg at Etihad. The France international and Magalhaes bottled Manchester City’s most feared attacker, Erling Haaland, limiting the Norwegian to 0 shots on target.

After the game, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was seen in a strong conversation with Gabriel Magalhaes, apparently giving the player a pat for a brilliant showing at Etihad. Saliba particularly referenced Manchester City in his rave reviews of Arsenal’s insurmountable defence in the 2023-24 campaign.

”We played against them (Manchester City) three times and we made them struggle,’ Saliba said of City. ‘They feel and we feel that we are close to them,” he added.

While the French defender did not disclose the three best defenders in the Premier League, which he included himself, he mentioned Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, calling the Dutch, ”the boss.”

According to him, van Dijk’s aura scares strikers away, a feeling he has also begun to have as a top defender for the Gunners.

“Van Dijk has aura,’ he told L’Equipe. ‘He’s the boss. He commands everything. You can feel he’s scaring strikers away. And I’m starting to feel the same way,” he said.

Arguably, Saliba has established himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League. He played all of Arsenal’s 38 Premier League matches in the 2023-24 campaign, helping the club to a second-place finish. Moreso, some analysts believe Arsenal’s late stumble in the Premier League in the 2022-23 campaign was also a result of a back injury the French stopper picked up late in the season.

Meanwhile, Futballnews understands Saliba’s sterling outing with the Gunners is a stark contrast to his international campaign with France. Despite regular call-ups by Didier Deschamps, the 23-year-old is down the pecking in France, below Liverpool defender Ibrahim Konate and Dayot Upamecano of Bayern Munich.

Speaking in March 2024, Deschamps revealed why William Saliba is struggling to break into the Les Bleus starting lineup. According to Deschamp, Saliba had yet to impress him each time he is handed a chance in the team despite his Arsenal heroics.

“For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well,” Deschamps’ said.

Saliba was named in Deschamps’ final France squad for 2024 Euros with the player hoping to break into the team’s lineup.

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