Martin Keown and Rio Ferdinand slam Marcel Desailly's 'below average' William Saliba claim

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 08: William Saliba of Arsenal on the ball during the UEFA Champions League match between Arsenal FC and Sevilla FC at Emirates Stadium on November 08, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Rio Ferdinand and Martin Keown have been defending William Saliba against criticism from some of his own countrymen. Saliba has continued to play a starring role for the Gunners this season amid their solid start to the season, but he hasn't convinced everyone.

While most agree that Saliba is on his way to becoming one of the best centre-backs in the game, still only 22 years of age, Marcel Desailly recently dubbed him 'below average', while William Gallas recently said that he was 'worried' about the Arsenal star.

TNT Sport pundit and Arsenal legend Keown hit back at that criticism ahead of Arsenal's win over Sevilla on Wednesday night, saying: "William Gallas has said something similar, and I really can't understand that.

"Desailly, with respect...but I think Saliba has a complete skillset. He  is one of the best defenders in Europe. His pace, his power, he reads the situation really well. He has everything that you need. He is aggressive and I'm really surprise at that comment. We love having him here at Arsenal."

Rio Ferdinand then chipped in, agreeing that Saliba is on the right path, adding: "I don't think Desailly has watched him. He might have seen a game or a half, but his consistency has been fantastic.

"He is the main player in that defence. he is 21 years old, a fantastic player, and I think he is going to be a leader at this club. That position demands concentration, minutes on the pitch and he is producing performances way beyond his years. Maybe it's because he hasn't been playing in the French team, but I think he is the best French centre-back around now."