A journalist has outlined Mauricio Pochettino’s plan for one of the best young players at Chelsea, with the rise of William Saliba at Arsenal proving to be an inspiration.
Arsenal signed Saliba from French club Saint-Etienne in July 2019. According to Sky Sports, Arsenal paid £27million for the defender, who was just 18 years old at the time.
Saliba spent the 2019-20 season back on loan at Saint-Etienne to continue his development. The following two summers he was expected to be given a first-team opportunity by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, only to be loaned out to Nice and then Marseille.
Some Arsenal fans were surprised by how long it took Saliba to make his debut for the club, given how he improved during each loan he went out on.
But the decision ended up working wonders for both Arsenal and the centre-back himself. When Arteta put Saliba into the Arsenal team at the start of this season, he immediately looked at home.
The temporary spells away from Arsenal had allowed Saliba to develop into a more mature player, while also giving him time to fill out and become a more imposing figure.
The Frenchman, who is now 22, played 33 matches in all competitions this term, helping Arsenal to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title. However, Saliba’s season was ended early by a back injury in March and this resulted in Arsenal’s form dropping. City eventually turned things around and stole the title from them.
CBS Sports journalist Ben Jacobs has now explained how Chelsea defender Levi Colwill could follow in Saliba’s footsteps.
Chelsea have their own ‘elite’ William Saliba-type star – journalist
Colwill has had loan spells at Huddersfield and then Brighton. He was particularly impressive with the Seagulls, excelling under rising manager Roberto De Zerbi.
Brighton want to sign the 20-year-old on a permanent basis and have already submitted a £30m bid, which was rejected by Chelsea. As per Fabrizio Romano, De Zerbi’s side are planning to return with a club-record offer worth £40m.
But during an interview with CaughtOffside, Jacobs has explained why Brighton’s efforts will fail, while also drawing comparisons between Colwill and his fellow youngster Saliba.
“Chelsea’s position on Levi Colwill is crystal clear – the centre-back is not for sale,” Jacobs said.
“Colwill had an exceptional season on-loan at Brighton and really enjoyed his time with the Seagulls. He has also been training with England’s senior squad this week.
“Chelsea have no plans to sell despite Brighton wanting to sign Colwill. They aren’t currently looking at another loan either. Chelsea believe Colwill is going to develop into an elite-level centre-back. They really don’t want to lose him.
“There is currently a lot of centre-back competition at Chelsea, and it will be tough to please all players if Pochettino plays a back four. Chelsea also have less games due to not qualifying for European football.
“But it wouldn’t surprise me if Pochettino assesses Colwill in pre-season, a bit like Mikel Arteta did with William Saliba when he returned from his loan spell at Marseille last summer. And if all goes according to plan, I can see Colwill getting some instant game time to prove himself.
“The only way a move would be possible is if Colwill forces it, and even then nothing is guaranteed. Chelsea are not offering any encouragement whatsoever to suitors. Colwill is a big part of their future plans.”
Chelsea fans would be delighted if Colwill turns out to be as talented as Saliba. The latter has already established himself as one of the first names on Arteta’s team sheet when he is fit.
If Colwill can do the same at Chelsea, then it could also save Blues owner Todd Boehly millions in the transfer market.