Arsenal centre-back Gabriel has lavished praise on defensive partner William Saliba, calling the young Frenchman ‘the best’ after his long-awaited Premier League debut on Friday.
Saliba joined Arsenal as a teenager in 2019 in a deal worth up to £27m but had never played a competitive first-team game for the club until he started against Crystal Palace.
It was a potential banana skin for the Gunners after what had been a very promising pre-season. But Saliba thrived under the pressure and rose to the occasion.
Arsenal kept Palace at bay, especially in the second half when the hosts grew into the game, and Saliba earned rave reviews from fans, pundit and his manager.
Now, Gabriel has jumped on the hype too, telling the Evening Standard: “For me, he’s the best! He’s very young, very promising and a very good player. I am so happy to play with him, together. He has now started in the Premier League and he was so good.
“The team did very well. They showed intensity and everyone stayed together. It’s very difficult to play here, but our keeper was strong. I believe in this team and it was very good. We got a clean sheet and three very good points.”
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Arsenal were without Takehiro Tomiyasu at Selhurst Park and Mikel Arteta favoured Ben White at right-back over Cedric Soares, which left a space for Saliba in the middle. Tomiyasu played 45 minutes of a Premier League 2 game the next day as he works his way back to fitness, which could give Arteta a selection headache in the coming weeks if he has to choose between Saliba or White.