‘We have got to keep him’ – Arsenal urged by Wright to prioritise player’s contract over Saka

Jason Soutar
Arsenal defender William Saliba during a warm-up

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has urged Mikel Arteta and Edu to secure the long-term future of defender William Saliba.

The 21-year-old joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 but did not make his competitive debut for the club until this season.

He has developed a wonderful partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes in the centre of defence and is widely regarded as one of the best young defenders in the world.

Arsenal are very eager for Saliba to sign a new long-term contract having officially agreed fresh terms with Gabriel Martinelli and reportedly agreed a new deal with Bukayo Saka.

Extensions for all three youngsters have been high on the agenda for Arteta for a while now, with it now a case of two down, one to go.

Saliba is currently under contract until 2024 and is bound to have plenty of interest should he decide against signing a new deal.

After news broke of Saka’s agreement to extend his stay at the Emirates, the France defender hinted that he wishes to remain at Arsenal by saying he wants to win “everything possible” with the Premier League club.

“I want to win everything possible here, and to put the club back on the very top,” Saliba said. “I want to win every title.

“We all want to win the Premier League, and I’ve never won a trophy so that’s why I work every day, but we know we have 15 games left and it’s not going to be easy.

“We have to focus and never give up because the Premier League is hard.”

On Arteta, Saliba added: “Before the game, he always talks well and when you get on the pitch, you want to do well because the way he speaks makes you want to fight.

“You can see that he trusts me.”

Arsenal legend Wright actually thinks the club should be more focused on Saliba’s contract than Saka’s.

The former striker thinks it is imperative the Gunners keep hold of the young defender.

“You look at him [Saliba] now, the way he has started the season and the way he plays, it’s fantastic,” Wright said. “He’s a full international off the back of it.

“People talking about Saka signing a new deal, and we know how much we need Saka. I don’t think there was any real problems with that happening because of his connection with the club.

“But I think all the eggs need to go in the Saliba basket. We have got to make sure we keep this guy.”

Saliba’s form has received a lot of attention, though Gabriel has arguably been more impressive, yet he doesn’t get nearly as much praise.

Gabriel’s game has come on leaps and bounds this season and has actually allowed Saliba to thrive.

Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino shares the same view and thinks the new partnership has “brought a new maturity to Gabriel’s game”.

“In all the excitement about William Saliba’s performances for Arsenal this season, I think people have not given enough credit to his central defensive partner Gabriel,” Cascarino wrote for The Times.

“The Brazilian is the only outfield player to have played every minute of Arsenal’s league matches so far and I think he has thrived alongside Saliba.

“The task of being the senior partner to a guy who is an outstanding talent but is only 21 has really brought a new maturity to Gabriel’s game.”

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