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Fortress Arsenal: How Saliba’s Rise Turned Them into Contenders

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David Ornstein, a respected football journalist, has ignited a firestorm with his recent claim: “every big club in the world would try to sign him” if Arsenal ever made William Saliba available for transfer. This statement serves as a stark reminder of Saliba’s meteoric rise and his critical role in propelling Arsenal towards their current success.

From Uncertain Beginnings to Undisputed Starter

Arsenal secured Saliba’s services from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for a hefty £27 million, accompanied by immense expectations. However, his initial years were far from smooth sailing, limited playing time under manager Mikel Arteta forced him to seek loan spells at Nice and Marseille. These loan stints proved to be a blessing in disguise. Saliba flourished, showcasing his exceptional defensive talent, composure on the ball, and an aerial dominance that left attackers frustrated.

A Return to Fortress Arsenal: The Saliba Influence

Saliba’s return to Arsenal last season marked a defining moment. He seamlessly slotted into the first team, forging a formidable partnership with other defensive stalwarts. Furthermore, his calmness under pressure, reading of the game, and ability to win aerial duels transformed Arsenal’s backline from a vulnerable unit to a resolute force. Moreover, clean sheets became a regular occurrence, and opposition attackers found themselves increasingly thwarted by Saliba’s imposing presence.

Securing the Gem: A Strategic Move by the Gunners

Recognizing Saliba’s immense potential and the inevitable interest he would attract, Arsenal’s management acted decisively. They secured him to a new long-term contract, effectively putting a ‘hands-off’ sign to other clubs. As Ornstein confirms, “He is Arsenal property for the foreseeable future,” a statement that resonates well with Arsenal fans who had witnessed the defensive frailties exposed in Saliba’s absence through injury last season.

Saliba’s Importance

Mikel Arteta has meticulously built a well-balanced Arsenal squad. Making it difficult to isolate a single player as their ‘most important’. Declan Rice, a midfield powerhouse, often features in such discussions. However, former Premier League striker Darren Bent, along with many others, believes Saliba holds the key. His presence at the heart of the defense provides a sense of calmness and stability that permeates the entire team. Somehow his absence, as seen during his injury spell, exposed vulnerabilities that Arsenal will be keen to avoid in the future.

Saliba’s transformation from a promising prospect to a world-class defender has been remarkable. His composure, intelligence, and defensive prowess have instilled a sense of security in the Arsenal backline. However, his long-term future secured at the Emirates, Arsenal fans can rest assured that their defensive wall will continue to rise in stature. Additionally, providing a solid foundation for the club’s ambitions for years to come.
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