Date:5th August 2022 at 12:00pm
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Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga admits he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from defender William Saliba so far.

THE LOWDOWN: GETTING NOTICED

Months before now, many Arsenal fans and players dis not have an idea of how Saliba is highly rated in France where Arsenal signed him from back in 2019. Especially last season at Marseille where he distinguished himself among his peers to be named Ligue 1 young player of the season.

But in the preseason, especially the US tour, Saliba has been able to showcase himself, grabbing the opportunity with both hands. He started showing his excellent traits in the wins against Everton and Chelsea – keeping a clean sheet in both games. After the Chelsea win, Mikel Arteta could not but acknowledge the Frenchman’s qualities.

And just this past weekend in front of the home support, the defender passed the litmus test with his composed yet solid performance against Sevilla in the Emirates Cup. With these displays, one of many who has noticed – Lokonga, has gone ahead to make his own confession.

THE LATEST: TEAMMATE’S CONFESSION

Lokonga has admitted that defender Saliba is good and was surprised the club sent the French defender out on loan for that long.

“I didn’t know he was so good,” Lokonga confessed.

“I never saw him playing before, and when I saw him for the first time I said ‘wow, he’s really, really good’. So I was surprised that Arsenal let him go on loan and he didn’t play.”

Lokonga went on to agree that the loan seems like it was the best thing for the defender, given how it’s helped him to push on.

THE VERDICT: SALIBA’S TIME

Saliba has impressed virtually everyone in the team’s preparation for the new campaign. He has simply played himself into Mikel Arteta’s plans. No thanks to Takehiro Tomiyasu’s fitness issues. Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes are the club’s first-choice centre-backs before now, but his arrival in the picture has changed everything.

Although it must be said that the 21-year-old hasn’t played a single minute in the English top tier, and there are never any guarantees about how a player might adapt. However, the signs with Saliba are all positive and he did well against English opponents in pre-season.

Without a doubt, Saliba grabbed the opportunity given to him with both hands and it will not come as a surprise if he is named in Arsenal’s starting lineup for their 2022/23 Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Friday.