William Saliba’s former coach Fabio Frasconi: “He has not always had this maturity.”

Speaking to Eurosport, 18-year-old St Étienne central defender William Saliba’s coach in Bondy and at FC Montfermeil, Fabio Frasconi, has commented on the player’s meteoric rise.

“He has not always had this maturity. He was a really adorable kid, but at school he was not conscientious, he went there to have a laugh with his friends. And I helped him during some disciplinary run-ins. His departure to Montfermeil, where he followed me at U15, put him on the straight and narrow and forced him to grow up. Although he was not necessarily better than everyone else, I’ve never seen a kid who wanted to become a professional footballer more. He knew who all the scouts in the region were, even those who were not wearing the colours of the club that they were representing.”

“He plays like a senator. I’ve seen him under pressure just once: in his first match for the France U16s. He was not good at all but he played again 3 days later, the coach believed in him. It seemed to me to be the moment everything clicked. He understood then that each match was not necessarily life or death.”

“What I like, is that even though he signed for Arsenal this summer, even though he is earning a lot of money, even though he is regularly called up to play for France, he has never changed and that is a sign of enormous maturity. Look at him, after the derby: he’s the one who leads the atmosphere, who leads the victory cry. He plays like he is trying to build a long-term career with St Étienne despite the fact that he’s joining the Gunners at the end of the year. He has an incredible mentality.”

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