William SalibaFrench Footballer
William Saliba is a French footballer who plays as a defender for Marseille, on loan from Arsenal.
• Date of birth: 24 March 2001
• Age: 21 years old
• Place of birth: Bondy, France
• Nationality: French
• Position: Defender
• Height: 192cm / 6ft 4ins
• Weight: 85kg / 187lbs
• Wages: £37,000 per week (Estimated)
• Instagram: @w.saliba4
The 21-year-old began his youth career at AS Bondy and FC Montfermeil before joining Saint-Etienne’s youth set-up in 2016.
Saliba progressed through the ranks at Saint-Etienne and made his debut for the French club in September 2018.
In July 2019, it was announced that Saliba had signed for Premier League club Arsenal, and he returned to Saint-Etienne on loan for the following season.
Saliba then spent loan spells away to Nice and Marseille in subsequent campaigns.
The defender represented France at various youth levels, and made his senior debut for France in March 2022.
So, what do we know about Saliba’s journey to becoming the talented footballer he is today? This is his story.
Early Life, Family And Upbringing
William Saliba (full name: William Alain Andre Gabriel Saliba) was born on 24 March 2001 in Bondy, a suburb in the north-east of Paris, France. His family is of Cameroonian descent.
Saliba attended the same school as Kylian Mbappe. He was coached by Mbappe’s father, Wilfrid, at an early age at AS Bondy.
Saliba did not play much with Mbappe because he is two years younger than the French forward, but he did get to know Kylian via his father Wilfrid.
“Since his father was my coach [at under-11], I often went to his home,” Saliba told Le Populaire, as quoted by The Times. “He was a real coach. He taught me everything and if I’m here today, it’s thanks to him.”
Saliba had trials at PSG, Auxerre and Le Havre but ended up joining amateur club FC Montfermeil. He then ended up being snapped up by Saint-Etienne in 2016.
After joining Saint-Etienne in 2016, Saliba signed his first contract with the French club in May 2018, when he was 17 years old, initially committing him to the club until 2021.
“I am proud to have signed my first professional contract with Saint-Etienne,” Saliba said at the time. “It is an honor to see that [the club] is counting on me. I take this first contract as a great sign of confidence and a step to the very top level.”
Saliba made his first-team debut for Saint-Etienne on 25 September 2018, featuring from the start in a 3-2 away win against Toulouse in Ligue 1.
He made a total of 16 league appearances for Saint-Etienne in the 2018-19 campaign. His development had caught the eye of Premier League club Arsenal – and a switch to England soon beckoned.
Arsenal And Loan Spells
Arsenal completed the signing of Saliba from Saint-Etienne on 25 July 2019 for a fee believed to be in the region of €30m (£26.9m). Saliba was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. His contract at Arsenal is reported to run until 2024.
“We’re delighted William is joining us,” Arsenal boss Unai Emery said at the time. “Many teams wanted him but he decided he wanted to come to us and be part of our future. He will stay in France next season for more experience and then we look forward to him joining our group.”
Saliba made a total of 17 appearances in all competitions for Saint-Etienne in the 2019-20 campaign.
Despite returning to Arsenal ahead of the 2020-21 campaign – and making his first appearance for the north London club in a pre-season friendly on against MK Dons on 25 August 2020 – Saliba ended up being left out of the club’s competitive squads for the season.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted his regret at the situation when speaking about Saliba in October 2020, saying: “I feel really bad for William Saliba. Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.”
On 4 January 2021, it was announced that Saliba would be joining French side Nice on a six-month loan deal. He made 20 Ligue 1 appearances in the second half of the campaign, scoring one goal.
In July 2021, it was confirmed that Saliba would be heading out for yet another loan spell in France – this time to Marseille.
Explaining the decision to let Saliba leave on loan once again, Arsenal technical director Edu said at the time: “Together with William, we have decided it will be good for his continued development to spend another season on loan. William joined us as an 18-year-old, and he is still only 20, so he is still developing all the time.
“William is a player with strong natural ability and next season has the potential to be really beneficial for him at Marseille, a good club. To play another season in Ligue 1 will be very important for his development. We will of course be keeping in close contact with William during the season and wish him all the best in France with Marseille.”
Transfer Fees And Salary
When Saliba signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2019, the transfer fee was reported to be in region of €30m (£26.9m).
In January 2021, The Daily Mail reported that Saliba was earning around £160,000 per month at Arsenal, which is the equivalent of around £37,000 per week.
Saliba represented France at various youth levels, including Under-16, Under-18, and Under-21.
He made his senior debut for France on 25 March 2022, featuring in a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast in an international friendly. He then played the full 90 minutes in France’s 5-0 win over South Africa in an international friendly four days later.
Posting on Instagram after he made his senior France debut in March 2022, Saliba wrote: “I am so proud and grateful for my first selection in the France team. Thank you to the fans for your incredible welcome.”
Life Away From The Pitch
Saliba appears to enjoy keeping his personal life out of the spotlight as he focuses on his footballing career.
Most of the posts on his personal Instagram account relate to his exploits on the pitch for both club and country.
What Have Others Said?
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, speaking after Saliba was left out of the club’s competitive squads for the 2020-21 season: “It’s bizarre. We’ve just not seen the kid. You want to see him to see how he performs say in the Championship to see if he’s good enough. I’m anxious to see. The feeling was that this was going to be the one. Gabriel has come in and been an outstanding signing. Maybe they feel he’s too young and want him to go out to pastures new. To then loan him out when there was a real problem there last season seems a real mystery.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, speaking about Saliba in March 2022: “We are really aware of what he’s doing, how he’s developing. He’s our player and we are really happy with the decision that we made because the exposure, minutes, responsibility and growth at his age is something we could not guarantee him this season. It makes a lot of sense what is happening with him and we are glad to see him the way he is improving.”