In-form Arsenal defender earns spot in France squad

Lewis Oldham
Arsenal youngster William Saliba

Arsenal youngster William Saliba has been called up to play for France ahead of the upcoming international break.

It was announced on Monday that the centre-back had replaced Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard in the squad.

Saliba made the move to Arsenal in 2019 for around £27m from Saint-Etienne. He is yet to make his debut for the Gunners.

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The 20-year-old joined Marseille on loan at the start of this campaign.

He has been in great form as he has been praised for his performances. 

The defender’s contract at Arsenal does not expire until 2024. It is currently unknown whether Saliba will be involved for the Gunners next season.

Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard has reminded Bukayo Saka that football “isn’t a no-contact sport” after the Arsenal winger complained of Aston Villa players kicking him.

Saka scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Gerrard’s Villa side on Saturday to move Arsenal four points clear of Manchester United.

In a post-match interview, Saka called on referee Andy Madley for a “bit more protection when the opposition is trying to kick me”.

To which Gerrard hit back: “He said we were too rough? They didn’t commit any fouls today?”

Arsenal actually edged the foul count 14 to 13 in the match and Gerrard added: “Listen, it’s part of the game.

“The last time I checked, it isn’t a no-contact sport. I think tackles are allowed, physicality is allowed, aggression is allowed.

“He (Saka) is a good player, an outstanding talent. I love him. But he can’t complain about that side of it. That’s football.

“I’m sitting here now with screws in my hips. I’ve had about 16 operations. I’m struggling to go to the gym at the moment. That’s all on the back of earning a living in English football. He’ll learn and he’ll learn quick.”

He continued: “We didn’t deserve anything after that first-half performance, I thought we were second best. I thought Arsenal played really well, controlled a lot of the first half.

“I thought we had too much respect for Arsenal. We lacked belief in ourselves collectively. It wasn’t really until the game got into the second half where we started showing anything near where I wanted it to look.”