Nicolas Saint-Maurice, a fitness coach who has worked with superstars of sport and music, believes a talented French defender will come good
William Saliba is out of sight again at Arsenal, having been loaned out without a single appearance for the Gunners, but he has been likened to Virgil van Dijk and tipped to come good at Emirates Stadium in 2022.
Those bold predictions have been made by elite fitness coach Nicolas St-Maurice, who has worked with superstar performers from the worlds of sport and music.
Saliba has been one of his clients, and the 20-year-old defender is expected to follow in the footsteps of a fellow centre-half at Liverpool when finally making his breakthrough in north London.
What has been said?
Saint-Maurice, who has helped Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and rap artist 50 Cent in the past, told football.london of the progress Marseille loanee Saliba is looking to make: “He’s a very nice guy, very hard working.
“We worked on a number of things such as speed, power, you know he’s a big guy also and he’s strong. When you’re so young and you’re big and strong you aren’t as quick as the smaller guys. We worked a bit on that and he did really well.
“When I first saw him I thought of Van Dijk because of his positions of plays and he has the right potential to make it far.
“I know a lot of young players, I can see that some get distracted when they come to Dubai but he was working hard and he’s got the right environment.
“William is humble. Arsenal fans are annoyed right now because he’s not at the club and he’s doing really well in Marseille but I think last season he missed some games on top of Covid.
“Saliba needs to play more and he will come good. He does not want to come to Arsenal and sit on the bench – that’s not his mentality. He wants to be playing for Arsenal. I think next season he will make a solid case for himself. “
Saliba at Arsenal
Arsenal invested £27 million ($36m) in Saliba, beating arch-rivals Tottenham to his signature, in the summer of 2019. They allowed him to spend another season with Saint Etienne before welcoming him to England in 2020.
Big things were expected of the Frenchman as the Gunners found themselves crying out for a reliable option in the heart of their back four, but Saliba has made just two U23 outings for Arsenal with a season-long stint at Marseille sanctioned during the last transfer window.
Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes are now the favoured centre-half pairing of Mikel Arteta, but Saliba still has time on his side as he is tied to a contract through to 2024.