William Saliba will play a major role for Arsenal this season, says Mikael Silvestre

William Saliba was crowned Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year last term (Picture: Getty)

William Saliba has been backed to play a major role for Arsenal this season by former Gunner Mikael Silvestre.

Arsenal once again missed out on the Premier League top four last term, finishing fifth after a late collapse handed the final Champions League spot to north London rivals Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta’s side were without Saliba for that campaign – as he spent the season on loan at Marseille instead – who did qualify for the Champions League after finishing as runners-up in Ligue 1 to Paris-Saint Germain.

The 21-year-old also helped the French club reach the semi-finals of the inaugural Europa Conference League and was crowned Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year in what was a hugely impressive spell.

The defender is yet to make his first-team debut for Arsenal since a £27m transfer from Saint-Etienne in July 2019 and has been sent out on loan three times, but Silvestre feels it is finally time for Saliba to become a star at the Emirates.

‘Certainly, his (William Saliba’s) season on loan at Marseille has helped him to grow and to develop,’ Silvestre told bettingexpert.

‘He was young when he walked into the scene and now he’s showing more and more maturity as he has been gaining experience.

William Saliba has impressed in pre-season for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘I think he’s showing signs that he belongs to Arsenal and that he can be a big part of that defence, with Gabriel (Magalhaes) and Ben White.

‘I anticipate him to play a big part this season for Arsenal.’

Meanwhile, Albert Sambi Lokonga says he has been impressed with Saliba during Arsenal’s pre-season campaign and admits he was ‘surprised’ the club loaned him out last season.

When asked about Saliba’s impact during pre-season this summer, Lokonga told the Counter Attack Podcast: ‘I didn’t know he was so good because I didn’t see him play before [he left].

‘When I saw him for the first time I said, ‘Wow, he is really, really good’ – so I was surprised Arsenal that let him go on loan and he didn’t play.’

Arsenal’s season gets started on Friday when they travel to face Crystal Palace.

MORE : Patrick Vieira says Arsenal are ‘much stronger’ this season ahead of Premier League opener

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