Arsenal are being linked with a move for 18-year-old defender William Saliba. He is dubbed as the ‘next Raphael Varane’, which sounds quite alright to me.
We really are beginning to hit the silly season. The summer transfer window is looming, the gaze of fans and media alike has shifted towards the assembling of teams, and the rumours are starting to flow in. Predictably, Arsenal are at the centre of it all, as they so often are.
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The latest name to be linked with a move to north London is Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba — his full name is actually William Alain Andre Gabriel Saliba, for those so inclined to know.
I know nothing about Saliba other than what a quick Google search can tell you. And I am not going to try and pretend that I do, as I am sure plenty of other fans and ‘analysts’ might. There is a nice rundown from football.london, which you can check out here, and that does give plenty of the basic details, as well as some interesting quotes from some rather significant figures regarding his qualities, including one Jose Mourinho, who stated that he has all the tools to succeed at the top level.
One thing that seems consistent with a description of Saliba is that he has regularly been labelled as the ‘next Raphael Varane’. Labelling an 18-year-old as the next version of arguably the best centre-half in world football is bold, to say the least. But as someone who has never seen him kick a football, that sounds quite alright to me.
I have previously expressed slight hesitation with Arsenal investing in the centre-back position. It is a need and I understand that improving the position, at some point during the Unai Emery rebuild, is essential, but I feel that there are other positions that should be prioritised this summer, which is especially true given the limited budget.
That said, if they are to sign a player who they believe could develop into one of the best central defenders in the world, which is seemingly the case with Saliba, I am all for it. Positional value is important. Spending £35 million on another centre-forward would not make all that much sense. But at some point, the value of the signing comes purely from the quality of the player, and not the position that they play.
I have no idea if Saliba is as good as advertised. And even if I had watched him play, there are plenty of smarter people than me who would be able to give you a more accurate assessment of his qualities and potential. But if Emery and Arsenal believe him to be ‘special’, they should be looking to sign him.
Special talents do not come around all that often. Sometimes, you just have to pull the trigger. If Saliba is really special, then, and the ‘next Varane’ as many claim him to be, Arsenal should be chasing him. Hard.