Martin Keown hits out at Chelsea icon for calling Arsenal star William Saliba ‘average’

'He has everything you need. I am really surprised by that comment.'

Martin Keown hits out at Chelsea icon for calling Arsenal star William Saliba ‘average’
Arsenal FC v Sevilla FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
William Saliba is a key player for Arsenal (Photo: Getty)

Martin Keown says he ‘really can’t understand’ why Chelsea icon Marcel Desailly thinks that Arsenal star William Saliba is just ‘average’.

Saliba has continued his great form from last season and remains a key part of Arsenal’s team as they push to win the Premier League title.

The centre-back has helped his side concede the second fewest goals in the league and is fundamental to how Mikel Arteta’s team defend and attack.

Yet, former French defender Desailly doesn’t seem to rate him, recently saying: ‘I don’t believe his individual qualities to be above average. He’s at a very, very high level but not extraordinary.’

His words were very surprising, not least to Keown who praised the 22-year-old in the build-up to Arsenal’s Champions League clash against Sevilla.

‘I really can’t understand that [Desailly’s comments]. I think Saliba has the complete skill set,’ the former Gunners defender told TNT Sports.

‘I think he’s right now one of the best defenders in Europe. He has everything you need. His pace is phenomenal. His power. He reads the situation really well.

Manchester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Martin Keown has nothing but praise for Saliba (Photo: Getty)

‘We love having him at Arsenal because he’s physical and has everything you need.’

‘He has everything you need. He’s aggressive and I think he has everything he needs. I am really surprised by that comment.

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand was equally baffled by the remarks, adding: ‘I don’t think Marcel Desailly has watched enough of him. He might have seen one game or half a game. But his consistency has been fantastic. 

‘He’s the main man. He’s going to grow into a leader at this football club. That position demands concentration and minutes on the pitch. Saliba’s producing performances way beyond his years.’

MORE : Arsenal and Mikel Arteta right to criticise ‘frightening and frustrating’ VAR mistakes, says David Seaman

MORE : Jurgen Klopp gives injury update on Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Gravenberch as pair miss Liverpool’s Europa League clash

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.