Arsenal signing William Saliba a mix of Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane, says France youth coach

Nineteen-year-old signed for the north London club last summer but immediately returned to St-Etienne on a season-long loan

Alex Pattle
Monday 24 August 2020 11:23
Behind the scenes: William Saliba in training with Arsenal

France youth coach Jean-Luc Vannuchi has spoken about how ”monster” Arsenal signing William Saliba progressed into the player he is today – a mix between Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane.

Saliba signed for the north London club last summer but immediately returned to Ligue 1’s St-Etienne on a season-long loan.

The centre-back, now 19, was immediately made captain of France’s under-18 side after his call-up, with Vanucchi commenting on how easily Saliba dealt with older opponents.

“My first impression was that this was the biggest man of his generation,” Vannuchi told The Telegraph.

“The difference between him and the other players was massive.

“When he took the ball and ran into midfield, no one could stop him. He was like a monster compared to the others. When he played with St-Etienne it looked normal for him, even though he was so young.”

Vanucchi also made comparisons between Saliba and two of the world’s best centre-backs: Liverpool’s Van Dijk and Real Madrid’s Varane.

“A mix of the two styles,” Vannuchi said.

“With Varane because of his speed and power, and with Van Dijk it is the interceptions, the positioning on the pitch.”

Arsenal seem close to announcing the signing of another defender in Lille’s Gabriel Magalhaes, with the Gunners looking to have beaten Premier League rivals Manchester United to the 22-year-old.

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