Fri 07 October 2022 | 19:03

Arteta about Saliba and Van Dijk comparisons: "Wow, that's a big call"

Mikel Arteta wants William Saliba to play his own game, despite comparisons to Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk based on the defender's performance.

William Saliba

has impressed everyone at


, but

Mikel Arteta

has refrained from drawing comparisons to Virgil van Dijk. After getting his foot in the door with Saint-Etienne, Nice, and Marseille on loan, Saliba has been outstanding for Arsenal this season.

The 21-year-old player originally joined Arsenal in 2019, however he was loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-2020 season. Saliba spent the previous season on loan at Marseille before moving on to Nice when Arteta did not use him at center defense in 2020-21.

Arsenal held on to Saliba despite interest from


, and the French international has responded by starting every Premier League game so far this season.

The likes of Arteta and others have urged Saliba to "make his own career" ahead of the Gunners' match against the Reds because of the comparisons between him and Liverpool defender

Virgil Van Dijk


The manager of Arsenal said to the press:

"I think the way he has established himself, the composure and leadership that he's shown on the pitch – it's done in a very natural way without any flashlights, just being himself. Being very quiet but at the same time, very confident."

Arteta said on the Van Dijk comparisons:

"Wow, that's a big call. We're very happy with where he is at the moment. He's Saliba: he's no one else, and he needs to make his own career." 

Arteta may not have compared players, but head-to-head records are interesting. Saliba has helped Arsenal keep three clean sheets this season, which ranks him joint-first among Premier League defenders. He has 12 headed clearances, one more than Van Dijk but far behind the league-leading defender (Joachim Andersen - 36). Van Dijk has 23 clearances to Saliba's 25.

Despite Van Dijk's troubles, he has a greater tackle success rate (60%) and duel success rate (72.1%) than Saliba. He has also won 25 of 32 aerial duels, compared to Saliba's eight. Saliba's ball skills compare to Van Dijk's. Saliba can find teammates with long passes, but Arteta's technique means he's only attempted 32 in the league. 22 (69%) of them have been successful, bettering Van Dijk's 38/69 long passes (55.1 per cent).

source: SportMob

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