William Saliba compared to ‘young Rio Ferdinand’ after superb Arsenal debut: ‘I was massively impressed’

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 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Gary Neville led the praise of William Saliba after the Frenchman’s accomplished and overdue Arsenal debut.

After an impressive pre-season campaign that followed his latest promising loan spell at Marseille, the central defender finally made his competitive Gunners bow against Crystal Palace on Friday night - a full three years after first joining the club from Saint-Etienne for £27million.

Saliba was simply imperious as Arsenal carried over their strong summer momentum into opening night in the Premier League, providing a number of crucial tackles and blocks while also repeatedly demonstrating his ability and composure in possession.

The 21-year-old was deservedly awarded man-of-the-match honours and drew strong praise from fans and pundits alike as well as his manager Mikel Arteta.

One particularly flattering comparison came from Neville, in his capacity as a co-commentator for Sky Sports, who already compared Saliba to one of his illustrious former Manchester United and England team-mates.

"I think the most important thing for young players is just to play. He's got football inside him, I was massively impressed by him. He reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand,” Neville said after Arsenal’s 2-0 victory in a London derby secured by Gabriel Martinelli’s early header and a late Marc Guehi own goal.

"Crystal Palace away is a tough away game in the Premier League. They come at you. That's a big night for him."

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