On the back of an excellent 2021/22 season in Ligue 1, there was plenty of media attention given to William Saliba’s situation at Arsenal. However, Fabrizio Romano has revealed that from the club’s perspective at least, the Frenchman was “untouchable”.
“There was a meeting with his agent, but for Arsenal, there was no chance of a discussion – he was considered untouchable. Saliba was happy with this stance, as he could see he was a key part of the Arsenal project.”
He continued: “There were other clubs interested – I can mention AC Milan, who looked at Saliba as an alternative to Sven Botman. There were never negotiations, they knew he was untouchable to Arsenal. Barcelona also considered Saliba – he was an alternative in case they could not complete the Jules Kounde deal.”
Multiple European Giants Showed Interest in William Saliba
Arsenal have been really inflexible on William Saliba: untouchable despite OM intention to make an official bid. 🔴🔒 #AFC
Saliba was also in Barcelona list after priority target Jules Koundé.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 3, 2022
Saliba Is a Key Player for Arsenal
As Romano stated, Arsenal’s stance on the centre-back was consistent throughout the summer – he was not for sale. Both the club and Mikel Arteta viewed him as an important member of the squad, but even they could not have envisaged just how brilliant a start to Premier League life the 21-year-old would make. He has been phenomenal.
From their very first fixture against Crystal Palace to their recent 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby, Saliba has been outstanding and rarely put a foot wrong. He has solidified the Arsenal backline, making an average of 1.6 tackles per game in the Premier League, and has shown an impressive level of composure given his tender age.
However, his influence in the attacking phase of the game has been just as important. The defender’s ability on the ball has allowed Arsenal to dominate the majority of teams they have faced, with the Frenchman playing the eighth most number of passes in the league, with a total of 526.
Saliba's numbers were ridiculous today:
Most touches (77)
Most passes (70)
Most succesful passes (67)
Aerial duels won (100%)
Most tackles (3)
Most clearances (3)
Most recoveries (11)
Cruised through his first north London derby. pic.twitter.com/HAaV7AfwaY
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) October 1, 2022
William Saliba has been tremendous, and the £27 million fee that the Gunners paid for the centre-back in 2019 seems to be a very good piece of business. It is no wonder that several clubs around Europe have shown an interest in signing Saliba and he is likely to continue to garner such interest in the coming years.