Premier League • England

Arsenal man told he must ‘step up’ at Euro 2024 to prove manager he’s worthy after ‘I don’t like’ comment

William Saliba, Emmanuel Petit

Emmanuel Petit thinks William Saliba has to "step up" for France in the Euros

Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit has told William Saliba it is “time for him to step up” and show his manager he was wrong with comments made about the defender previously.

Saliba has been a vital cog for the Gunners over the past two campaigns. He played all 38 games for the second-placed Premier League side last term, and in the previous campaign, they slipped up at the back end when he was injured, proving his centrality to the side.

He was named in the Premier League team of the season last season, and was widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in world football.

But while Gunners boss Mikel Arteta clearly sees him as a vital asset, France boss Didier Deschamps is less impressed by Saliba.

Of the seven games France played in the 2022 World Cup, the centre-back featured just once, for a total of 27 minutes.

He has played a total of seven games since then, and Deschamps described in March why he does not play Saliba as often as his other centre-backs.

“He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much. For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well. The hierarchy doesn’t favour him at the moment, but he is here. Dayot Upamecano has had game time and perhaps William has had less,” Deschamps said.

“With certain players, I make sure to persevere, because it can be confidence or little blockages that can shift. Some don’t have any concerns, some need game time. William has had less game time, so that doesn’t allow him to be very calm.”

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Petit tells Saliba to step up

Saliba has played each of the last three games prior to Euro 2024, and Arsenal and France legend Petit has told him that in the tournament, he must show Deschamps he’s worthy of a place in his side.

“It is time for him to step up and to take the opportunity,” Petit said.

“I don’t know if he will get minutes but if he does, he has to grab it.

“He has to show Deschamps he was wrong with what he said about him. Saying he is a good player but he makes some mistakes, not being happy with some elements of his games.

“We all didn’t understand what he said because Saliba is probably one of the best central defenders in Europe.”

Given he has played the last three games for France, including two directly before the Euros, it’s likely Saliba will be given opportunities for them in the tournament.

If he grabs them, he could be one of the reasons they win the whole thing.

Doing so would be a great way to show Deschamps that he was wrong with his previous assessment of the Arsenal man.

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