Scouting expert: Arsenal starlet William Saliba must be in France World Cup squad

We’re delighted to welcome Football Manager’s Wolves researcher Dave Azzopardi as our exclusive columnist. Each week the scouting expert will be giving his views on the biggest talking points on Wonderkids across the UK…

Arsenal defender William Saliba has “got to” make the France squad for the World Cup after his form in the Premier League this season.

Saliba returned from three seasons away on loan to become the starting centre-back for the Gunners, as they lead the Premier League with 12 wins from their opening 14 games this season.

Despite manager Didier Deschamps having an incredibly deep pool of players to pick from across the pitch, including in defence, Azzopardi feels that Saliba is the most deserving of the bunch to be on the plane to Qatar later this month.

“I think every position that France have got they’ve got ridiculous depth, but I think he deserves it,” he told The Football Wonderkids.

“You look at Arsenal’s season so far in the Premier League and he’s been a massive part of it, even getting on the scoresheet a few times.

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“I think he’s got to. I know France have got top quality players but in terms of performances, where the team is in the league, how pivotal they’ve been to their team, I doubt there’ll be many better French defenders at the minute.

“For me he’s got to make that squad.”

Raphael Varane is likely to make the squad despite suffering a hamstring injury for Manchester United, while Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde and Presnel Kimpembe are all also battling for a place in the squad.

Saliba has arguably been the best defender in the country so far with Arsenal, and has been formally offered a new contract (The Athletic, 31 October) at The Emirates this season with his current contract set to expire in 2024.

In other Arsenal news, one journalist believes Gabriel Martinelli could be a top 5 winger in Europe before this season ends