“As soon as I knew Arsenal wanted me, I wanted to come here.” | William Saliba reflects on his football journey and why Arsenal was an ultimate destination

The 21-year-old French international has taken the Premier League by storm in his first season in Mikel Arteta’s XI with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar fast approaching

Arsenal is set to put their title credentials on the line for the second weekend running when they clash with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow as Mikel Arteta’s young Gunners clash with Jürgen Klopp’s perennial title contenders in need of a morale boost in 2022-23, with both sides set to add another chapter in one of the Premier League’s historic clashes.

One player in the Arsenal camp that is set to be in the center of it all tomorrow in the English capital will undoubtedly be William Saliba, as the 21-year-old French international has taken the Premier League by storm in his first season as a key figure in Arteta’s senior squad with a stake in Didier Deschamp’s squad on the line with the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar fast approaching.

Saliba has already catapulted himself into the collective consciousness of the top flight of English football this season after a string of fantastic performances for the current league leaders, but for many fans in France, Saliba has been at this for quite some time already after he previously shone at AS Saint-Étienne, OGC Nice, and Olympique de Marseille while many labeled him as part of the future of the French national team.

But for the native of Bondy, Arsenal had always been the ultimate destination and the Frenchman reflected on his journey when he sat down with the club’s media team in a recent interview.

“This is a special club,” he says. “You know that when Arsenal is interested in you, you are going to be very happy. There was no decision to make – you don’t need to make a reflection – it was an easy choice. As soon as I knew Arsenal wanted me, I wanted to come here.”

“When I was on loan it helped motivate me every day knowing that Arsenal were watching me, were in touch with me, and that soon I would be back here,” he reflects. “My objective was always to come back and play here, so I knew I had to fight and work a lot while I was away from the club if I wanted to come back.”

“Somebody from the club was in touch with me every week, giving me advice, encouraging me and I knew they were supporting me, even though I was in France.”

“Also having the love of the fans behind me while I was on loan was very special for me and helped me a lot. I saw some of it on social media of course, and it made it easier for me to play. I want to give the fans something back now, to thank them for their support.”

And thank the fans, he has, with many already putting Saliba ahead in the queue of Arsenal center-backs with some suggesting that he has been one of the best in his position across the entire league this season.

Should Saliba - and Arsenal - pass another serious test tomorrow, few will be left standing that can continue to question the club, it’s manager, or the capability of it’s crop of young talent who looks primed to edit the script this season.

Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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