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The 2020/21 season cannot come quick enough for some supporters as they look to get a first glimpse of William Saliba playing in an Arsenal shirt.
Signed from Saint-Etienne last July in a deal worth £27million, the 19-year-old returned on loan to the Ligue 1 side to continue his development.
Earning rave reviews since bursting onto the scene for the French club back in 2018, the physically imposing centre-back has all the attributes required to become a key part of Mikel Arteta’s defence for years to come.
Plenty of Arsenal fans have kept an eye on the Frenchman’s performances for Saint-Etienne this season and they will have been very impressed by what they’ve seen from the youngster.
Hamstring and metatarsal injuries have unfortunately restricted his appearances this term but he has proven his worth when he has played.
You only have to look at Saint-Etienne’s record with and without Saliba in the team to see how good he is despite his tender years.
The Ligue 1 side won just one of their first seven league games, conceding 12 goals in the process with no clean sheets.
The return of the French U20 international then coincided with an upturn in form at the back as they kept three shutouts in the first four games he started as they remained undefeated.
Saliba made a massive difference upon his comeback but what has helped him during his short career so far is that he has been given a chance to develop alongside such an experienced player.
With former manager Jean-Louis Gasset playing a major role after keeping faith with him when he maybe could have protected him and taken him out of the firing line, Saint-Etienne veteran Loic Perrin has proved pivotal to his progression.
A one-club man having started his career with Sainte back in 2003, the 34-year-old has a wealth of experience of playing in the French league and he has been the perfect man for Saliba to play alongside in either a flat back four or a three-man defence.
Known for his understanding and reading of the game, the opportunity to play alongside the captain for another year after his return to the club on loan was only a good thing for the Frenchman as he could develop these areas of his game.
All young defenders need a more experienced head to guide them along and show them the way to ensure that they keep on progressing and become the best defender that they can possibly be, with Perrin that man for Saliba as he will not let his standards drop one bit.
Perrin has had a big influence on his fellow defender so far and the centre-back will need a similar figure at Arsenal to ensure that his rise continues and he becomes one of the best centre-backs in the game.
Given Saliba’s age and the fact he is new to the country, David Luiz will have a vital role to play once he walks in through the door at the Emirates as he can take over from Perrin and become a key figure in his career.
Despite a poor start to life in north London following his move from Chelsea back in August, the Brazilian’s displays have improved dramatically under Arteta and he is a key part of the team’s defence.