William Saliba had impressed in his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace, three years after he first signed for Arsenal

Arsenal icon Ian Wright has praised Edu and Mikel Arteta for their decision to send defender William Saliba on loan to develop over the past few seasons. It comes after the Frenchman returned to the Emirates Stadium over pre-season and made an impressive debut in the opening game of the campaign against Crystal Palace.

The ɢυппeгѕ went on to beat the Eagles 2-0 at Selhurst Park – a venue they fell to defeat at last season – showing some free-flowing football at times. However, despite having those moments of brilliance on the ball, Arteta’s side had to show different elements of their game too.

There was plenty of pressure piled on the backline of Arsenal after they took the lead through Gabriel Martinelli, with Arteta’s men having to dig in when it mattered most. Then, in the final few minutes of the match, a cross from Bukayo Saka took a deflection off of Marc Guehi to double their advantage and add some comfort to the remainder of the match.

One player that was a standout during their resilient stage of defending in the game was Saliba, with WhoScored statistics stating he made seven clearances, one tackle and one block to deny the home side a way back into the game. Plenty of praise was headed the way of the 21-year-old, who finally made his Premier League debut three-years after signing for the ɢυппeгѕ.

That time has seen plenty of trials and tribulations for the central defender, including three loan spells and a difficult time spent in the youth team. His most recent move to Marseille was the one that saw him reach the big stage, helping the Ligue 1 side finish second in the division as well as earning a call-up to the French national team.

So his impressive performance comes as little surprise to many now he has taken that step up to the Premier League, with Wright praising the decision to send him on loan before throwing him in the side. “Mikel and Edu have got to take a lot of credit for what they’ve done with this guy. This guy is someone we’ve always thought would be special,” Wright said about the debutant.

“Even when they sent him out on loan there were fans calling for him to come back. He’s a full international now, he looks composed, calm, he’s got great pace.

“It’s a decision that was magnificent from Arsenal. It would have been easy to bring him back last year but they gave him the extra season and now he looks like he’s been playing in that position for years. At 21, to go to Crystal Palace for the first game of the season and play like that, you don’t want to get carried away but that’s some performance.”

With Saliba managing to displace Ben White in the team for the opener, it shows the faith that the manager has in his defender, who may be like a new signing to his team this season. The Frenchman will be hoping he can pick up where he left off, and if he can, he could be a huge player for the ɢυппeгѕ for not just this season, but for years to come.