Arsenal’s out-of-favour defender William Saliba has been compared to Liverpool colossus Virgil van Dijk by a top fitness coach.
The centre-back signed for the Gunners in 2019 for a fee of £27million but is yet to make an appearance for the Arsenal first-team with manager Mikel Arteta preferring other options.
Fans have been left baffled by the club’s treatment of Saliba, having sent him out on loan to three different Ligue 1 clubs over the past three seasons.
But Nicolas St-Maurice, better known as ‘The Power Coach’ for helping elite athletes like Karim Benzema and Trent Alexander-Arnold improve their explosiveness, was full of praise for the 20-year-old who he coached in Dubai.
Speaking to football.london, St-Maurice said: “He’s a very nice guy, very hard working. We worked on a number of things such as speed, power, you know he’s a big guy also and he’s strong.
“When you’re so young and you’re big and strong, you aren’t as quick as the smaller guys. We worked a bit on that and he did really well.
“When I first saw him I thought of Van Dijk because of his positions of plays and he has the right potential to make it far.
“I know a lot of young players, I can see that some get distracted when they come to Dubai but he was working hard and he’s got the right environment. William is humble.”
Saliba is currently out on loan at Marseille where he has impressed with his excellent ball distribution and general reliability at the back.
Do you think Saliba will ever make it into the Arsenal first-team? Let us know in the comments section.
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He was reportedly deemed unready but Arteta for various reasons such as his age and weakness in the air, which more playing opportunities in Ligue 1 are believed to help him iron out.
“Arsenal fans are annoyed right now because he’s not at the club and he’s doing really well in Marseille but I think last season he missed some games on top of COVID.
“Saliba needs to play more and he will come good. He does not want to come to Arsenal and sit on the bench – that’s not his mentality. He wants to be playing for Arsenal.
“I think next season he will make a solid case for himself.”
Saliba will face stiff competition from the likes of Rob Holding and new-signing Ben White, who took his number-four jersey, should he be kept next summer.
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