Rio Ferdinand has praised Arsenal centre-back William Saliba amid the Frenchman’s excellent start to the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.
Saliba signed for the Gunners in 2019 from Saint-Etienne for a fee in the region of £29m. He has spent the past few seasons away on loan in Ligue 1.
The defender shone for Marseille last term and it was reported in the summer that they were keen to sign him permanently.
This was never close to being completed and he has been vital for Arsenal at the start of this campaign.
He has been quick to form a strong partnership with Gabriel as Mikel Arteta’s side have won seven of their eight games in the Premier League.
The Gunners have looked like a team reborn in recent weeks and they have only conceded eight goals in their eight outings.
Last time out, they performed brilliantly as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at the Emirates.
Following this game, Fabrizio Romano has revealed that talks over a new contract for Saliba will take place in due course:
“What a performance again from William Saliba this weekend,” Romano wrote for Caught Offside.
“I personally think this signing has been superb work by Arsenal from the beginning – from noticing and trusting his talent when he was still just a teenager, to loaning him out a few times before promoting him to the first-team, and of course, blocking him from leaving permanently this summer.
“Olympique Marseille had a direct meeting with Saliba’s agent in August, but then it was impossible to negotiate on the fee with Arsenal as they considered William untouchable. It was not even a direct talk.
“There were French clubs tracking Saliba when he was at Saint-Etienne a few years ago, but Arsenal have been great as they trusted him since day one and now talks over a new contract will take place at the right moment.”
Ferdinand was also thoroughly impressed by Saliba in the North London derby. He thinks the France international is playing “beyond his years”:
“I think his composure, he’s very strong, mobile but it’s the composure in the pressure situations. He was the most composed centre-back on the pitch today – especially for Arsenal,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“There was times today where in transition, Arsenal could’ve got hurt but how many times did we see him come out with the ball.
“At the top level, you need to be calm, composed in these situations and at the moment, he’s showing that beyond his years but he has had to be patient and going away which shows he’s got character.
“I’m sure he’ll have a good career going here, he’s only been here short amount of time but he’s already become a fan favourite.”