Friday, December 8, 2023

“I came back here to win” – Saliba buoyed by Arsenal start

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If William Saliba didn’t sound too convinced about returning to Arsenal in the summer, he seems to have changed his tune.

After plenty of playing time in pre-season the France international has hit the ground running in the Premier League, starting all seven matches in the centre of defence for Mikel Arteta’s table toppers.

He’s helped the Gunners to three clean sheets, scored a couple of tidy goals and played with a confidence befitting a man of far more experience.

The fans love him, the manager loves him, his teammates love him and even rival managers have felt compelled to laud him with praise.

Having been frustrated at the delay to his Arsenal career, he now realises the roundabout journey was worth it.

“I came back here to win so it’s nice to start the season well,” he told Canal+ (translated by Sport Witness).

“We had a very good start to the season until the match against Manchester [United], but we are still first.

“From a personal point of view, it was better for me to go on loan to play, make mistakes, learn. I came back stronger and with new ambitions.

“These experiences proved to me that football is complicated, but that you should never give up and believe in yourself.”

With the World Cup just a couple of months away, Saliba, who is on international duty with France, now has his sights set on making the plane for Qatar.

“The World Cup is a dream,” he said. “When you are called for the first time, you have only one desire, it is to be there at each gathering. Honouring your country is something incredible.

“Afterwards, it doesn’t just depend on me, but by performing well at Arsenal, I have a chance of being there even if that doesn’t guarantee anything. There are a lot of defenders in this country. In any case, I will do everything to be there”

France face Austria tonight before taking on Denmark on Sunday. Assuming he comes through unscathed, Saliba will then get the chance to experience a north London derby.

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