Mikel Arteta told Saliba is "one of the best players in Europe" by Arsenal coach
Mikel Arteta has been told outcast centre-back William Saliba is "one of the best players in Europe" by former Arsenal ace Per Mertesacker.
Saliba, 21, is still yet to make his debut for the north Londoners following a £27million arrival in 2019 and spent the last campaign out on loan at Marseille, where he received rapturous reviews.
Now a fully-fledged France international, the Gunners centre-back claimed the prestigious Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year Award for his impressive stint on the south coast – though he faces a tough ask in dislodging either Ben White or Gabriel Magalhaes from a regular starting berth in the Arsenal backline.
READ MORE: Arsenal 'set Gabriel Magalhaes price' as Mikel Arteta could lose another transfer battle
Yet it's still safe to say former Arsenal captain, and now Gunners academy manager, Mertesacker has been impressed with the rise of the young defender on the continent. "What William has done in Marseille is magnificent," he told Hayters TV. "So for us to really test him this summer and see what’s best for him.
"But he has clearly made his mark at a young age and playing in a major league in Europe – he’s been one of the best players in Europe. So why not use him?"
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Despite failing to register a first-team appearance for the Gunners, Saliba is expected to be handed a new contract in north London to ward off interest elsewhere. The Bondy-born defender is not guaranteed to start every game for Arsenal but the addition of European football will allow Arteta to hand him more regular opportunities to impress.
However, with less than three weeks until the start of the new season, Saliba is still yet to receive an official squad number. The young Frenchman was handed the no.4 shirt upon arrival from Saint Etienne but that digit was nabbed by Ben White following his £50m switch from Brighton last summer.
Lucas Torrerira, who is highly anticipated to leave the Emirates Stadium this summer, is the only other Arsenal squad member without a number on their official website.
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