Chelsea icon Frank Leboeuf names the Arsenal star he would have ‘really loved to play alongside’
'He has the power, the stamina, the talent, the tactical knowledge.'
Saliba has been outstanding since making his long-awaited debut for Arsenal last season, with his performances crucial to his side’s Premier League title challenge and he was also a part of the France squad that reached the World Cup final in Qatar.
He has carried over this form into the current campaign, with the Gunners unbeaten after eight league games, having conceded just six goals – the joint best defensive record in the top-flight.
Despite that, he is yet to establish himself for his national team, though this can partly be attributed to the wealth of defensive options at Didier Deschamps’ disposal, including Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Ibrahima Konate, Jean-Clair Todibo, Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamencano and Axel Disasi.
The 22-year-old did withdraw from international duty two weeks ago having suffered a toe injury, but it is hoped he will be back in time for Saturday’s big game between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Former centre-back Leboeuf, who won two FA Cups with Chelsea and the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with France, believes Saliba should be the No.1 choice:
‘It’s crazy because right now I think he’s the best and he showed it week in, week out with the Gunners, but he seems to be third or fourth choice for Deschamps.
‘I don’t know how it’s going to evolve from here, but he clearly has the chance to become – or he’s already near – one of the best central defenders in the world.
‘He has the power, the stamina, the talent, the tactical knowledge. He has everything you need, and on top of that he has the anticipation that you need to have over everything. He cancels all opponents’ actions because of his anticipation.
‘I love the guy. I don’t know him personally, but I love the way he thinks about football, and I would have really loved to play alongside him, even if I had some fantastic players like Marcel Desailly.
‘I think he’s a great defender and hopefully he’ll be back soon, and he can play for the national team at his best. But when I look at the options we have, there are eight to ten players who could easily play for France at centre-back.’
Frank Leboeuf was speaking to Metro on behalf of Casino Gambler
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