Soccer

'Real class' – William Saliba responds to Arsenal legend Martin Keown

William Saliba thanked ‘legend’ Martin Keown after the former Arsenal ace sung the Frenchman’s praises following his performance in the club’s 2-0 win against Crystal Palace.

The 21-year-old joined the club in 2019 but he had to wait until Friday night to make his debut for the club, following loan spells with Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille.

There has been much confusion over the wait for Saliba’s debut, with fans baffled as to why the Frenchman hasn’t been utilised under Mikel Arteta.

Arteta, for his part, has always maintained that – in time – Saliba would prove to be an Arsenal regular.

He had the chance to stake his claim on Friday and Saliba took his opportunity, with Keown naming the Frenchman the Man of the Match.

‘Saliba – the fella’s been at Arsenal now for three years and it’s the first time we’ve seen him,’ Keown told TalkSPORT.

‘I think he should take a bow really because he deserved an opportunity far sooner than he got tonight.

‘If it was me given the choice, I’d go with Saliba for Man of the Match.

‘I mean they paid £50million for Ben White and Ben White’s having to play right-back because obviously the manager’s seen something in this player in pre-season, and why not?

‘I think actually it’s paid off and now we do have real competition in that central defensive position.’

It was a performance worth waiting for from Saliba and the Frenchman was buoyed to hear Keown’s praise of him after the match.

Told about Keown’s praise on TalkSPORT, Saliba responded: ‘Thank you to the legend!

‘Sometimes we don’t have thinking time, we have to react, so I enjoy tackles and I made a big one…

‘We knew it would be a tough game but we stayed strong and focussed until the end.

‘We defend together and we conceded some occasions. We still finished with the [clean] sheet.’

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