Arsenal urged to put William Saliba straight into their starting line-up
Gabriel Agbonlahor claims that William Saliba should be starting ahead of Ben White in Arsenal's back four next season
Gabriel Agbonlahor has urged Arsenal to put William Saliba straight into their starting line-up next season to replace the “overrated” Ben White.
The French defender is set to report back to his parent club this summer after having spent three loan spells away from the Gunners following his initial move to The Emirates from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019.
Saliba excelled for Marseille last season, notching up 36 appearances in Ligue 1 for the French side as they finished in second in the league behind champions Paris Saint-Germain.
He also enjoyed a breakthrough at international level and made his first five appearances for the senior France team this year following his good form for Marseille.
Mikel Arteta is aiming to assemble a squad he feels will be capable of breaking back into the top four next season after the Gunners missed out on Champions League qualification by the finest of margins last term.
Now, former Aston Villa star Agbonlahor has stated his belief that Saliba should be given a chance alongside Gabriel in the heart of Arsenal’s defence next season, with the ex-England international claiming that White has not performed to the level expected since his big-money move from Brighton and Hove Albion last summer.
Speaking in an interview with Football Insider, Agbonlahor said: “I’ve watched Saliba a few times and he’s got that speed that you like to see in a centre-half and he’s very good at making the right decision at the right time.
“Arsenal’s defence is nowhere near good enough to get top-four. For me, Ben White is very overrated, I watched him against Newcastle towards the end of the season and he was absolutely dreadful.
“He lacks pace, he lacks aggression. Yes, he’s good on the ball but he’s not a defensive midfielder, he’s a centre-half.
“Arsenal need two centre-halves who are no nonsense and have both got speed. For me, Gabriel and Saliba would be my starters next season.
“With Ben White, I think Brighton are laughing at getting the fee they got for him because he’s not good enough. It’s a shame that Arsenal have wasted a lot of money again. It was the same with Pepe. Ben White was not needed and Saliba should start ahead of him.”
Saliba is yet to make a competitive appearance for Arsenal since his move three years ago. His first Premier League opportunity could come when the Gunners travel to Crystal Palace on the opening weekend of the season.