The Gunners signed the centre-back from Saint-Etienne in 2019, but that he won’t arrive before the end of the year having stayed in France on loan.
William Saliba has all of the attributes required to be a significant success at Arsenal, based on Bacary Sagna.
He’s due to join with Arsenal at the end of the present campaign and if he does arrive, Sagna – that had a seven-year spell in north London and made 284 looks – thinks he has what it takes to go on for a major hit.
“First he’ll have to adapt to English football,” the former Gunners star exclusively told Target. “He is a major prospect for the future but Arsenal want him to execute as soon as he begins.
“He is conscious of that likely, but he has a lot of qualities and he’ll learn fast. Hopefully, he’ll achieve great things and become one of the greatest centre-backs from the league.
“He is quite confident in defending, he’s not afraid to defend one against you and the majority of the time that he wins the duels, that’s the very best quality for a defender.
“You will need some security, you will need some presence and he’s that.”
Saliba, who has just turned 19, has made 17 appearances in all competitions for Saint-Etienne this year having missed a huge chunk of the effort with a broken foot.
But at the build up to this coronavirus pandemic that has seen football suspended throughout the planet, he’d returned to full fitness and was playing regularly.
And Sagna – who’s now a free agent and living in Montreal while he applies for citizenship – has been keeping a close eye on his progress before his looming change to the Emirates.
The 37-year-old said: “For him, staying in the French league after signing for Arsenal was the best choice he could make since he knew he was going to change to a larger club, but he knew he needed to improve his performances.
“It was like a test, he needed to step up his game in this year and the last game I watched of him was amazing. I analysed him as an Arsenal fan and he did really well.”
But head coach Mikel Arteta will undoubtedly try to shield the adolescent in the strain that will come from such a big-money move and allow him time to adjust to his new environment in the Premier League.
Sagna, however, points to a difference among his countrymen as evidence that talented youngsters don’t always have to be held back.