William Saliba at Arsenal has echoes of Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool - Jamie Carragher
William Saliba’s performances for Arsenal has “an echo” of Virgil van Dijk’s first few months at Liverpool, according to Jamie Carragher.
The Frenchman finally broke into the Gunners first team this season after multiple years out on loan in France, and has played every minute in the Premier League.
His influence has helped push his side to the top of the league table, ahead of a meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds on Sunday (9 October).
Carragher is starting to feel that Arsenal, who have finished outside the top four for the past six seasons, might be returning to the top in the same way that his former side did under the German, and that Saliba is a key element to that.
Writing in his Telegraph column on Friday (7 October) he said: “It has been regularly shown that a side needs just two or three high-class additions to take them to the next level, and the biggest clubs have the resources to find game-changers who can inspire a revival.
“For Liverpool, those signings were Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 and Alisson Becker six months later.
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“At Arsenal, the integration of William Saliba and signing of Gabriel Jesus have elevated the team’s performances to a point where they look like a top-four team again.”
Van Dijk has been widely regarded as the best central defender in the world since his move to Anfield from Southampton.
His form is starting to come under the spotlight this season, but it is still high praise for Saliba to be seen as having a similar effect at the Emirates.
There certainly appears to be a different feel to Arsenal this year under Mikel Arteta, even compared to other teams who topped the table for decent amounts of time before falling away in the nearly 20 years since their last league title.
The signing of Jesus from Manchester City is certainly part of it, but it is the defensive solidity that is less familiar.
They took their time to bring the 21-year-old into the fold but his growth in Ligue 1 has meant that now he is has finally been given a chance he is a ready-made top-level player.
Clearly there is a long way to go this season for the Gunners, just as there is a long way to go in Saliba’s career, but if he can go some way to emulating the illustrious Dutchman at Anfield then he will have been more than worth the wait.
Two goals and an assist to go with his growing partnership with Gabriel Magalhães constitute an excellent start to life in the first team, and a win over van Dijk and company would be another statement after the comfortable 3-1 North London derby defeat of Tottenham last week.
In other Arsenal news, Chelsea are one of the clubs monitoring Gabriel Martinelli.