Mikael Silvestre has backed William Saliba to make an instant impression at Arsenal, insisting that he will be ready for the first team when he returns to the Gunners from his loan spell with Saint-Etienne.
The centre-back has been an ever-present in the starting XI for Claude Puel’s side and Silvestre thinks he has the required quality to become a first-team regular for Mikel Arteta in the 2020-21 campaign.
He told Bet Pensylvania: “William Saliba will start from the get-go when he joins Arsenal next season. He’s currently playing for a struggling Saint-Etienne side, but his performances have been good, and he’s been consistent.
“Defensively he’s strong so he’ll be looking to impress in pre-season. He’ll need to adapt in that period, but he has enough time to learn from the Arsenal staff and players. He’s still very young but has great experience from his time in Ligue 1.
“He’ll continue to learn from the current centre-backs, but he’ll have a big part to play from day one.”
Silvestre also spoke about Bukayo Saka’s emergence, with the versatile winger having performed impressively at left-back for the Gunners during the absences of Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac.
“I met Saka recently and congratulated him on his fantastic season,” the Frenchman added. “We need to remember it’s all very new to him in defence, so he’s needed to learn fast.
“At the back, if you make a mistake, you’re almost certain to be punished. He’s still learning, especially in his decision making and positioning in the defensive third.
He’s got all the attributes to be a great modern full-back – strong going forward and combining with the winger on the left.
“He has competition for his place with Kolasinac and Tierney, but it’s a big plus for the club.”
Regarding Arteta’s start to life at the Emirates Stadium, Silvestre commented: “Arsene Wenger’s departure has seen a similar period at Arsenal to when Sir Alex Ferguson departed Manchester United. It’s a tough transition, but Arteta has now come in and he’s unbeaten in eight games.
“The players are now understanding his philosophy and you can see the methods he wants to put in place at the club.
One key difference is in the transition from defence to attack. In the past few games, you can still see a lack of consistency in performance.
There is no magic formula to get it right straight away, so the best is still to come for Arsenal under Arteta.
“They’re on the right path but they need to retain key players [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and [Mesut] Ozil for next season. A player like Ozil is suited to the way Arteta plays, so we will continue to see the best of him.”