Arsenal defender William Saliba described himself as ‘so happy’ to have finally made his Gunners debut, starting with a clean sheet and win against Crystal Palace in Friday’s Premier League opener.
Saliba joined Arsenal as an 18-year-old in a transfer worth £27m in 2019. But he has spent the last three years out on loan at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille, playing 52 times in all competitions for the latter season and being named Ligue 1 young player of the year.
The centre-back had never played a competitive first-team game for Arsenal before walking onto the pitch at Selhurst Park but he looked every bit like he belonged there.
“It was very good because we start with a win and a clean sheet. It was a tough game, but we won at the end, so very good. I’ve waited a long time, but we (did it) in my first ever game, and I am so happy,” Saliba said, via Arsenal.com.
“It’s very good when you start to have your first (chance) in this amazing club. So I am so happy, and hungry for more,” the physically imposing Frenchman added.
“We knew it would be a very hard game, but we were prepared and we were focused. It’s good for the confidence, it’s very good and I hope we will keep going like this. We play as 11 and the players who came home, they gave their maximum.
“It’s a good team, when we play like this it’s very good.”
Manager Mikel Arteta was understandably delighted with what he saw from Saliba, especially in the circumstances of a potentially very tough game.
"For William, to ask him to come here in his first Premier League game away from home against this physical team is a big task and the way the boy played and the way he resolved every situation, he deserves a lot of credit, and I will pat his back because he was superb,” Arteta said.
“He’s a really humble guy and he wants to be coached and he wants to learn. He’s really focused and determined to be a success here and he’s been very patient. We’ve tried to explain and develop him in the right way and we’re really happy for him.”
This article was originally published on 90min as William Saliba reflects on long-awaited Arsenal debut.