Alan Smith: New addition Saliba has Virgil van Dijk's quality


Arsenal Legend Alan Smith believe Gunners new signing William Saliba can become the new Virgil van Dijk

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Saliba deal was agreed with the Gunners last summer but the French youngster stayed at Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Etienne on a season loan.

The teenage centre-half shone at his defensive position for the Les Vertes despite them struggling and he's now expected to slot into Arsenal’s defence for next season campaign.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk, on  the other hand has helped transform his side into Premier League champions and still considered one of the best defenders in world football.

And Smith believes 19-year-old Saliba could have a similar impact at the Emirates for the Gunners over the coming years.

"With a few quid to spend, another central defender must be on the cards. This area, in fact, is the most interesting of all. Will William Saliba, for instance, be given an early chance after finally coming over from Saint Etienne?" Smith told Sky Sports.

"Saliba, by all accounts, has tremendous potential as a classy defender in the Virgil van Dijk mould. I can just imagine Arteta on that training ground, working hard with the 19-year-old to instil good habits.

"Depending on how that goes, we might see the Frenchman let loose early on. Next to whom is another matter though.

"Will Arteta continue with three at the back, a system that helped bring about such huge improvement?"

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