Some 1106 days after putting pen to paper on an Arsenal contract, William Saliba has finally been handed his first Gunners start by Mikel Arteta.
Saliba has been made to wait for his club debut, and that's putting it mildly. The Frenchman featured twice for Arsenal's U23s in 2020 but otherwise has had to make do with spells on loan at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille. But after three years biding his time, the 21-year-old has finally been rewarded with his first Gunners start.
The French defender was named on the team-sheet by Arteta for their opening day game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park – much to the delight of the club's supporters.
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"Really happy that Saliba is finally starting," wrote one excited fan. As another commented: "Starboy Saliba 3 years, 3 loans, but today we finally debut."
A third person added: "I can't even explain how excited I am to see Saliba make his EPL debut for us." While a different user wrote: "I knew I was excited but even more so now. I think we all knew the lineup since the Emirates Cup but man I’m buzzing to see Saliba."
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Someone else said: "Can’t wait for everyone to see how good Saliba is this season. Serious player." And another user chimed in with: "So excited to see William Saliba play tonight. I don’t think people realise just how good he is."
Arteta named Saliba in a back-three alongside Ben White and Gabriel in south London. There was also a debut for former Manchester City stars Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, while Martin Odegaard captained the side.
The Gunners are hoping to get back into the Champions League this season after falling short last time around. Arteta's side had been in pole position to book their spot at Europe's top table, only to throw it away in the closing weeks of the season.
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