Claude Puel talks up £27m defender for Arsenal

Date published: Wednesday 27th May 2020 4:02 - Jo Harrison

William Saliba (pic from Arsenal FC)

Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel says William Saliba is set to be an instant hit with Arsenal after returning to the Gunners following his one-year loan.

Arsenal paid big bucks for the the highly-rated 19-year-old when securing his services from Saint-Etienne in a £27million deal last July but he remained with the Ligue 1 outfit for another season.

However, that loan has finished after the French top flight was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and Saliba now has the chance to link up with his new teammates at Arsenal.

Due to the terms of the loan deal, Saliba won’t be allowed to play any of the Gunners’ remaining ten Premier League fixtures although he will be able to take part in training.

But when he does finally get the chance to pull on the Arsenal shirt, the man who has watched his progress this season says the teenager can make an immediate impact.

Puel, who had spells in charge at Southampton and Leicester before becoming coach at Saint-Etienne, knows what’s needed to flourish in the Premier League and believes Saliba has all the qualities to quickly establish himself as a regular in Arsenal’s often maligned defence.

Speaking to The Athletic, Puel said: “He is a fantastic player.

“He is a young player but with a lot of maturity in his play. Also, in his life. He is a player with a good feeling and spirit.

 

“It will be hard for us without him but I think it is a fantastic opportunity for Arsenal.

“I think they need a good centre-back and have done for some time, and I think William is the right player.

“I think he can play all the time in the first team at Arsenal.”

Saliba, who signed what was reported to be a five-year contract with the Gunners in 2019, had made just 12 appearances in Ligue 1 before the French season was halted after 28 games. He’d appeared 16 times in the previous campaign.

Earlier this month, the 6ft 3in central defender was listed in the top 10 young talents in world football, according to online scouting database Football Talent Scout.

 

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