William Saliba makes Virgil van Dijk comparison as Liverpool captain sent seven-word message

Virgil van Dijk during a Netherlands Training Session
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Icon Sport)

William Saliba has lavished praise on Virgil van Dijk ahead of the European Championships this summer. The duo will lock horns later this month when France and the Netherlands face off at the Leipzig Stadium on June 21.

Speaking to French publication L’Equipe ahead of Euro 2024 in Germany, the Arsenal defender spoke highly of the Liverpool captain's commanding presence on the pitch. Saliba also acknowledged his own growing influence in the Gunners' backline.

"I'm not the guy who talks much, but I talk more and more. I'm making progress on that point," said Saliba. "In defence at Arsenal, I'm one of the leaders. Van Dijk has aura. He's the boss. He commands everything. You can feel he's scaring strikers away. And I'm starting to feel the same way."

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Saliba also confidently placed himself among the Premier League's top defenders. He added: "I think I am in the top three [defenders in the Premier League]. 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 am in the top three defenders."

The Arsenal ace stressed the importance of continuous improvement and staying vigilant during games. He said: "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."

Saliba is eager to prove his worth on the international stage, but it's still uncertain whether he'll be in France's starting line-up this summer. Didier Deschamps has selected several centre-backs for the tournament; Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard join the Gunners youngster on the plane.

Some of these players, like Kounde and Pavard, might be expected to play as full-backs. Interestingly, Les Bleus experimented with a five-man defence in a friendly against Luxembourg on Wednesday night so Saliba may well share the pitch with Van Dijk after all.

Nevertheless, France will face Canada on Sunday evening before they head to Germany to step up their preparations for Euro 2024.