William Saliba may have played a role in convincing Gabriel to stay at Arsenal despite the defender attracting interest from Serie A giants Juventus. The Brazilian partnered the young Frenchman for the first time in competitive action in the Gunners’ opening day win over Crystal Palace and has been keen to talk up his qualities.
Saliba impressed during his first Premier League appearance for Mikel Arteta’s men. The French international has been on the club’s books since 2019 but has been continually loaned out to clubs in Ligue 1. There had been rumours that the centre-half could return to France permanently this summer, but these have been quashed as he quickly impressed in pre-season and has now established himself in the starting XI.
In Gabriel, the 21-year-old has found the perfect partner. The left-sided defender has impressed during his time in North London and is considered by many Arsenal fans to be the best defender at the club.
His performances had seen him attract interest from the continent, with Juventus heavily linked with his signature, while Barcelona were also said to have him in their crosshairs. The 24-year-old was keen to praise his new defensive colleague when discussing his decision to ignore his other suitors.
“It’s always nice to get that recognition but I’m really focused on Arsenal,” he told Sky Sports. “I am very happy here. I’ve got a good relationship with my team-mates and I am fully committed to the project.
“Saliba is a good friend of mine already. We speak French together, so that helps. He has added a lot of quality to the team and I think he has a brilliant future ahead of him.
“He’s a young player who came here at a very young age and then went out to get some experience. Now, despite his age, he is already playing for the French national team. That tells you how good he is. He’s here to help the team and he’s a very promising talent.”
Gabriel was also keen to stress that the pair could help each other to improve their own performances.
“I have been here for two years now, so I do have experience that I can use to help him,” he explained. “But at the same time, he can help me. He has a lot of quality and a lot of physical strength out on the pitch. We have similar qualities. I think we complement each other well.”
Gabriel and Saliba will line up together against as Arsenal play Leicester the Emirates on Saturday.
- An Express report