'Arsenal’s best player', '9/10': Media blown away by £27m Gunners man's display last night
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

'Arsenal’s best player', '9/10': Media blown away by £27m Gunners man's display last night

Arsenal defender William Saliba made his long-awaited competitive debut for the Gunners on Friday night.

And what a performance it was from the 21-year-old, one that justified the club’s long-game strategy with him.

Saliba joined Arsenal three years ago from Saint-Etienne for a reported £27million.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

He spent his first season on the Gunners’ books back on loan at his former club.

Then, Saliba spent the second half of 2020-21 at Nice, before playing for Marseille last season.

The Frenchman enjoyed a fruitful stint on loan at Marseille, making 51 appearances including 36 in Ligue 1.

Saliba’s efforts saw him win the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award and also make the team of the season.

During the last three years, Mikel Arteta often came in for criticism from fans for his approach towards Saliba.

However, the youngster needed time to develop, and the culmination of that was evident against Crystal Palace.

Saliba won the Man of the Match award for his display against Patrick Vieira’s side at Selhurst Park.

“A brilliant debut”

Several media outlets loved what they saw from Saliba in the 2-0 win and lauded him in their match ratings articles.

Football.london gave him 8/10 and wrote: “Such an impressive Premier League debut from the Frenchman who was assured throughout against a tricky Palace attack.

“Rarely forced into last ditch defending because of his excellent positioning, but pulled it off sublimely when needed.”

The Evening Standard went with 9/10, writing: “Arsenal’s best player and a brilliant debut from the Frenchman.

“Made a couple of huge tackles and blocks, and looked so composed on the ball.”

90Min gave Saliba 8/10, adding: “A long overdue Premier League debut but it didn’t faze him and he did well snuffing out danger that came his way.”

And the i also went with 8/10, writing: “Back at Arsenal, in the starting XI, and already showing why Arteta felt now was the time to unleash Saliba in the Premier League.

“The proverbial “new signing” (he joined in 2019 before loan spells at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille), Ligue 1’s young player of the year last season cut a composed figure at centre-back, and could quickly become their first-choice in this position.”

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