By George Overhill

1st Oct, 2022 | 6:00pm

William Saliba could be Arsenal centre-back for next 20 years - Cesc Fabregas

William Saliba makes it look so easy that he could be an Arsenal centre-back for the next 20 years, according to Cesc Fabregas after the North London derby.

The defender put in a very strong performance as the Gunners brushed aside rivals Tottenham 3-1 at the Emirates on Saturday (1 October), and is proving to be one of the stars of Mikel Arteta’s young team this season.

As a former stand out at a young age for the same club, Fabregas, having played in France with Monaco for much of the time that Saliba was in Ligue 1 on loan, picked out the Frenchman, 21, for particular praise.

Speaking as a pundit in the BT Sport studio after the game, the 35-year-old Como midfielder said: “I would like to just mention a special name that nobody really spoke about because he was so good that I think he made it look so easy for him.

“William Saliba. I’m sorry but this boy was in France for the last three years on loan and I was watching him very closely, because an ex-Arsenal scout asked me three years ago when we were playing against Saint-Etienne in a cup game, I was rested that game so I was in the stand, he told me, ‘Have a look at this boy, I want to sign him’.

“He was 18, 19. He was the best player on the pitch. And that shows you the potential of this guy, and it looks so easy that potentially he could be Arsenal’s centre-back for the next 15, 20 years.”


Even up until this summer it wasn’t entirely clear that the French international would ever make it into the Arsenal first team.

Having been signed originally as a teenager back in 2019, he was loaned back to Saint-Etienne, then to Nice, and then to Marseille, without making a senior appearance in England.

But he has played every minute for this rejuvenated Gunners side so far this term, and is proving to be every bit worth the wait.

Perhaps the team would have benefited from him last season as well, as the youngster had been successful enough across the channel to become a full international, but it will be seen as better late than never now.

Arsenal finished the day four points clear at the top of the Premier League, with only the loss against the previously abject Manchester United (4 September) preventing a 100% record.

With the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard central to the team among others, there is plenty of youth involved.

And with the success they are having so far there is reason to be optimistic for the future, as plenty of the key members of the squad are likely to have a decade or more to go in their careers.

Saliba is a big part of that and former Barcelona and Chelsea man Fabregas is not surprised after his history in France.

In other Arsenal news, top 10 youngest ever shows Ethan Nwaneri should not be saddled with pressure too early.