Mikel Arteta says he has been delighted with the development of William Saliba at Arsenal as the defender prepares to return to his native France this week.
Arsenal travel to face Lens in the UEFA Champions League’s group stages on Tuesday evening, in a fixture that will mark a return to France for the centre-back.
Saliba came through the ranks at Saint-Etienne and later spent time on loan at his former side, Nice and Marseille after signing for Arsenal, with the defender awarded the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year during his time with Marseille in 2021/22.
Since returning to Arsenal, Saliba has emerged as one of Europe’s best young centre-backs and Arteta has praised the consistency the 22-year-old has shown since breaking into the team in north London.
“When you look how he’s developing, his role in the team, the level and consistency he’s shown in the last year or so, it’s remarkable,” Arteta said at his pre-match press conference.
“I don’t think you will find a lot of centre backs doing what he’s doing.
“Credit to the players around him as well, the way they are guiding him, protecting him, inspiring him and then with the qualities he has, the presence, the physicality and composure to be a leader in the back line for a big club like us, it’s a huge compliment.”
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