In his younger days, the 22-year-old Frenchman felt more at home scoring goals than trying to keep them out. He does, however, concede that his attitude was not the best back then and that a positional change has served him well.
WHAT THEY SAID
Saliba has told Arsenal’s official website of his progression to this point: “I always wanted to win. That’s all I wanted when I was a young player. I wanted to win every game and that’s what really motivated me at that age. I wanted to score in every game, but I wouldn’t say I was a selfish player. Some strikers are selfish, but I also looked for my team-mates too. I have to be honest though, and say I was a lazy player. Yes I was lazy, and also I would sulk quite a lot. My manager would always tell me off for sulking, for being lazy in training. This is maybe why I wasn’t captain! As I said, I was young in my head, but then I grew up. My coaches helped me a lot at that age. I realised how you had to be on the pitch and I changed.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Arsenal bought into Saliba’s potential back in 2019. He had to be patient in pursuit of regular opportunities, as a couple of loan spells were put in place, but he is now a key component in an exciting young squad that has big ambition. Saliba added on the present: “We have very good atmosphere here. Every day we have a laugh, we have a joke, we like being round each other, but when we are on the pitch we go hard and we are serious. It’s important to have both – you cannot do one without the other.”