Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal defender William Saliba has “the potential” to become as good as the likes of former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand, ex-Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany or Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.
While he did dismiss the “myth” that the Gunners could have won the title if the Frenchman had been fit for the final two months of the season, he claims the centre-back’s presence would have made the title battle with Manchester City a lot closer:
“This idea that they weren’t conceding goals or looking vulnerable with Saliba at centre-back is a myth. It’s not pointing this lad out because he’s got the potential to be a Virgil van Dijk, a Vincent Kompany, a Rio Ferdinand – that sort of figure. I’m not quite sure Gabriel has.”
“This is just on games that Arsenal won where he was still making mistakes that were leading to goals. I’m not saying he wouldn’t have made a huge difference second half of the season, he would’ve because he’s better than Rob Holding and Kiwior, there’s no doubt.”
“But he was still making mistakes that were leading to goals. So, I don’t think him being there for the full season would’ve meant that Arsenal would’ve gone on and won the title. I’m sure they’d have been a lot closer but there’s still things he needs to improve on to come at the level of other central defenders who’ve gone on to win titles.”
Saliba has been a massive miss for Mikel Arteta’s side and we will never truly know how the team would have fared if he hadn’t sustained that back injury against Sporting Lisbon in March.
As Carragher rightly points out, though, the 22-year-old has a huge future ahead of him and Arsenal fans will be hoping that he puts pen to paper a new contract very soon.
Saliba’s current deal is set to expire at the end of next season, and the club are reportedly working very hard on getting an extension sorted out.