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Gary Neville says Saliba reminded him of Rio Ferdinand in Arsenal win
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Gary Neville says Saliba reminded him of Rio Ferdinand in Arsenal win

Gary Neville has told The Gary Neville Podcast that the performance of William Saliba in Arsenal’s win over Crystal Palace reminded him of a young Rio Ferdinand, while he expressed his excitement for what the Gunners starlet could become in the coming years.

Mikel Arteta’s men opened their Premier League campaign with a superb showing at Selhurst Park. Goals in either half gave the Gunners a 2-0 win.

(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty

Arsenal were scintillating at times. Gabriel Jesus was electric, particularly in the early stages. And Oleksandr Zinchenko showed why he was so popular at Manchester City.

But the pair were not the only debutants. Of course, the game saw Saliba make his long-awaited Arsenal bow. The Frenchman started alongside Gabriel Magalhaes, with Ben White pushing out to right-back.

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

And Saliba was outstanding. Certainly, a lot of Arsenal supporters will feel vindicated for imploring Arteta to give him a chance at some stage.

Neville was hugely impressed by his display. And he is incredibly excited for what kind of player he could become in the future.

“I referred to it as an early Rio Ferdinand-type performance. He reminded me of that, comfortable on the ball. You just know he’ll get stronger, more wise. And you know that in three years, he’s going to be a hell of a centre-back. He’s a hell of a centre-back now. But when you see in him in another two or three, four years time,” he told The Gary Neville Podcast.

“It reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand, I said that after the game. But you just know there’s development in him. He’s only going to get better.”

Saliba reminded Neville of Rio Ferdinand

Obviously, some of Arteta’s critics will suggest that Saliba’s performance showed that he should have been in the fold much sooner. But Arsenal will probably feel that they have been proven right for loaning him out last year.

He now looks completely ready for Premier League football. And Arsenal also have an established partnership between White and Gabriel when changes are needed.

Saliba has been a player Arsenal fans have been excited about for some time. So he deserves huge credit for the way he handled his debut.

You can certainly see why the hopes are so high for the 21-year-old.

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