Marcel Desailly plays down William Saliba and names world’s best two defenders

William Saliba playing for Arsenal
William Saliba has been in tremendous form for Arsenal so far this season (Picture: Getty)

Marcel Desailly has warned William Saliba he still has much to prove before he can be considered one of the world’s top defenders.

The Arsenal centre-half has enjoyed a stellar start to the new season and capped a series of impressive performances by marking Erling Haaland out of Sunday’s win over the champions, to the extent that last season’s top scorer failed to register a single shot on goal.

Saliba’s return to the side having missed the run-in last term and coincided with Arsenal’s defensive improvement, but Chelsea legend Desailly believes the credit should be shared around.

He told Gambling Zone: ‘He didn’t keep Haaland quite by himself – it was also due to the other players.

‘Arsenal pressed City high and cut out the passes to Haaland.’

Arsenal player William Saliba battles for the ball with Manchester City's Erling Haaland
Saliba played a key part in nullifying Haaland’s threat (Picture: Getty)

And while the former France World Cup winner recognises Saliba’s huge potential, he feels he is still short of the standards set by Virgil van Dijk and current Les Bleus centre-half Dayot Upamecano.

He added: ‘I wouldn’t say Saliba is the best in the world yet. I believe that Dayot Upamecano and Virgil Van Dijk are above Saliba, even though Van Dijk has dropped a little bit.

‘We do, however, need to give Saliba time. He only arrived two years ago and, back then, nobody knew his name. He was never mentioned! Let’s allow him to exercise and practice his craft at the highest level.

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‘Saliba has done well and he has the potential, but let’s wait and see what else he can do. The potential is there. He’s surely an international-level player for France. He needs to build up his relationship with the other players in the France camp before he can show what he can do individually.

‘I really like Upamecano, even if he still believes a bit too much in his athletic capacity. That causes him to make mistakes.

‘I’d say he needs a bit more humility in his physical capability and reads the game better, he’d be the best centre-back in the world. Virgil Van Dijk’s drop has been so disappointing as, for three seasons, we all believed he could be the best.’

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