William Saliba aiming to emulate Arsenal icons after France World Cup call

William Saliba aiming to emulate Arsenal icons after France World Cup call

William Saliba wants to follow in the footsteps of Arsenal legends Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira by winning the World Cup with France.

Saliba was on Wednesday night named in France’s squad for this month’s tournament after excelling in an Arsenal team that is currently top of the Premier League.

The 21-year-old only made his Les Bleus debut in March while on loan at Marseille, but has his eyes fixed on going all the way in Qatar.

Arsenal have a rich history of French players winning the World Cup, with Petit and Vieira doing so back in 1998.

And asked if he wants to emulate that feat, Saliba said: “Yeah, of course. I want to be the next Frenchmen to do that, like [Robert] Pires or Vieira or [Thierry] Henry. We will see.

William Saliba’s strong Arsenal form has earned him a place at the World Cup with France (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
William Saliba’s strong Arsenal form has earned him a place at the World Cup with France (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“It is amazing. I don’t think I can imagine what is the World Cup now, but I will imagine it later. If I am going to the World Cup it shows I have had a good start to the season with Arsenal. I have to keep going like this.”

Saliba found out he was in the France squad while warming up for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup third-round meeting with Brighton, which the Gunners lost 3-1.

“Some people told me just one hour before, but I waited for the coach [to say I was in the squad],” said Saliba. “So when the coach told the media I was so happy. It was just before the game. I was so happy.

“When he (Dider Deschamps) spoke on the TV we were in the warm-up. So when I came back I watched it a little bit on my phone and I saw my name.

“I wanted to be in it (the squad), but you know in France we have a lot of good defenders so that is why I am so happy.”

Arsenal were knocked out of the Carabao Cup after losing to Brighton, but they are still top of the Premier League and will stay there during the World Cup break if they beat Wolves on Saturday.

“(It’s important) because we have just one game left, like this, some players can go on holidays good and us go to the World Cup with good mentality,” said Saliba.

“I have to be focused on the last game with Arsenal. To push to win and then after this game I will be focused 100 per cent with the national team.”