It's no secret that Arsenal has had defensive frailties in the last couple of seasons since losing Alex Song and this has proved to be its soft underbelly.
Last summer, sacked coach Unai Emery signed French teenager William Saliba and many thought that he will walk straight into Gunners defence. This was not to be as he was farmed back to France and loaned to Saint Etienne as Arsenal snapped up David Luiz.
If not for an inconsistent and struggling backline, Arsenal could be in a better position and not struggling to qualify for any European tournament. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang continues to score vital and rescuing goals but the weakness at the back has stood out like a sore a thumb.
So why are Arsenal fans excited about the impending arrival of Saliba?
Saliba in numbers.
He wasn’t a regular at St. Etienne, but his ability to act like a complete central defender had set him apart, leading to multiple clubs wanting him.
In the 2018/2019 season, the 19-year-old defender had seen Saliba win 2.3 tackles per 90 minutes while being dribbled past only 0.6 times per 90 minutes. He had an impressive tackling percentage, also boasting of two interceptions per 90 minutes.
Saliba has had a season to forget as he has made only 12 appearances as his season was plagued by two separate injuries.
St. Etienne hadn’t lost a single game this season when Saliba had played. Their campaign did hit the rails later on, but Saliba has shown big signs of promise already.
The French U-20 international has a passing accuracy in his own half of 91.2 per cent, with his passing accuracy in the opposition’s half standing at 80.4 per cent. More so, a big 36 per cent of his passes are forward, showing how good he is at playing out from the back.
These are qualities which will no doubt impress Mikel Arteta who loves players with such good technical abilities and competent on the ball.
His comparisons with World Cup winner Raphael Varane show exactly the sort of player he is- someone who is fast, strong in the tackle and exceptional on the ball.
If injuries give him a break and he settles at the Emirates, Saliba has the perfect skill set to make a big impact in the English Premier League.