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I'm a humble person but I am one of the top three Premier League defenders

Arsenal defender William Saliba
-Credit: (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)


Arsenal centre-back William Saliba insists that he is in the top three current Premier League defenders after a brilliant campaign at the Emirates Stadium.

The 23-year-old made 50 appearances for the Gunners this campaign and played every single minute in the Premier League as Arsenal conceded just 29 goals. This was five less than champions Manchester City and led to both Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes receiving plenty of praise.

Ahead of the European Championships in Germany, Saliba has conducted an interview with L’Équipe where he insists he is one of the better defensive players in the division. Despite this, the Frenchman knew there were things he needed to work on this season.

"I think I am in the top three [defenders in the league]," he said. "We finished with the best defence.

"I watch a lot of matches. I am a very humble person but last season, just like this season, I was in the top three defenders.

"I need to continue to work to go even higher […] in terms of concentration, I am a lot better. Before, I could play a top match but in one phase of play, I slept a bit. That is no longer the case. I am always on alert."

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Back in October, former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand was full of praise for Saliba. He told the Vibe with Five podcast: "I have to say I watched the game [Arsenal's victory over City] and Saliba, it’s these games where you see if the boys have got the temperament and that counts for a lot in these big games.

"He’s cool as you like with and without the ball. I don’t think he’s been dribbled past in eight games.

"There was one moment I stopped the game and rewound it for me son because he plays centre-back. I said: ‘Watch this,' the ball gets played and he’s on the halfway line with [Erling] Haaland. He’s giving all centre-backs sleepless nights based on what he did last season.

"Saliba, the last person he saw before he went to sleep wouldn’t have been his missus, it would’ve been Haaland’s face. Halfway line, someone plays the ball beyond the back four. As it’s being played him and Haaland are shoulder to shoulder and he just bounces him, and Haaland goes over.

"Those little details, don’t put me in a foot race, don’t need to, I could, but I don’t need to. He’s got little dark arts he’s introduced to his game. He seems cute around the box as well he’s calm under pressure, he’s happy to have the responsibility of hoofing the ball out at times.

"Him and Gabriel’s partnership is really blossoming I don’t think he does what he does without a good partner so you have to give Gabriel his flowers as well. He is the A-side in that partnership."