After ending the season on a high by winning the FA Cup, Arsenal have set their sights on adding balance to their squad. The Gunners are blessed with one of the best attacks in England, but they’ve been having major defensive problems ever since Arsene Wenger left in 2018. It is being reported that Mikel Arteta has complete control over the squad and new signings after the departure of Head of Football Raul Sanllehi. The London outfit are amidst a rebuild, and they will be extremely active in the transfer market this window.
Arsenal signed William Saliba from St.Etienne for £27 million. The Frenchman received coaching from Kylian Mbappe’s father when he was younger. He was signed aged 18 and was loaned out back to his old club to continue his development in the Ligue 1. The youngster has been one of the best defenders in France, with a tackle success rate of 80%. He is also great at passing, with a success rate of 88%.
Saliba is a hard-tackling no-nonsense defender, dominant in the air and comfortable on the ball. He will suit Mikel Arteta’s playing style and will be a great asset to the team. The Frenchman has already gotten used to life in London and was seen celebrating the FA Cup victory over Chelsea with his new teammates. He was also seen having banter with senior players like Alexander Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang on social media. At St.Etienne, Saliba had a loan contract until the end of June. Although Arsenal were willing to let the Frenchman complete the season by playing in the French Super Cup final against PSG, an agreement could not be reached by the clubs and Saliba’s season was over without appearing in the final.
Gabriel Magalhaes was relatively unknown until last season. As of now, he is one of the hottest young properties in Europe. He is set to join Arsenal on Sunday after they agreed a £27m fee with Lille for the defender. Magalhaes has played for Croatian club Dynamo Zagreb and Ligue 2 club Troyes before. A tackle success rate of 75% puts him in the top 5 list of defenders this season in the Ligue 1. He is very dominant in the air, standing at a towering six feet and three inches.
Magalhaes and Saliba both have a pair of young legs, at 22 and 19 respectively. They have little experience and may need some time to get used to the standard of the Premier League. Mikel Arteta has already held conversations with David Luiz with respect to young players entering the team. Luiz is very vocal and a strong figure on and off the pitch. A world-class centre-back, he can help in the development of the two young centre-backs by mentoring them and taking them under his wing, just like he did with attacker Gabriel Martinelli.
Saliba had a similar figure in his old club St. Etienne in Loic Perrin, who was his centre-back partner and acted as a mentor to him. Arsenal are a team with a lot of brotherhood among the squad, the best example being their veteran strikers Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette. Arsenal fans will definitely be very excited to see how their team fares next season with their defence now being stable.