Exclusive | Marcel Desailly on William Saliba: “I don’t believe his individual qualities to be above average.”

In an exclusive interview with Get French Football News, former France defender Marcel Desailly has said that he doesn’t believe Arsenal defender William Saliba’s “individual qualities to be above average” and added that he believes he needs to “acclimatise” to assimilate into France’s backline. 

After a loan spell at Olympique de Marseille, Saliba broke into the Arsenal first-team last season. Not only did he immediately cement his place in an Arsenal side that went on to finish second in the Premier League, but he was also included in the Premier League Team of the Season. 

However, Desailly, who played 116 times for Les Bleus between 1993 and 2004, believes that Saliba has to do more to displace the current duo of Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté.

“Upamecano, and Konaté – their association is fabulous. And more than that – I think that, individually, they maybe have a level above what we saw with Varane and Umtiti. But before they can express their individuality at a very high level, their association needs to be good,” Desailly told GFFN.

He added, “Then there is the one at Arsenal too (William Saliba) – he hasn’t yet had the game time to adapt to that necessary association. I don’t believe his individual qualities to be above average. He’s at a very, very high level but not extraordinary. So before absorbing the international level, he needs to acclimatise to those associations. As things stand I don’t know how to associate him with Konate or with Upamecano so that he can excel and develop all the talent that he has in him.”

GFFN | Jeremy Smith, Luke Entwistle

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