January 7, 2021
Saliba, an encouraging debut at Brest
Loaned to the Gym at the start of the week, William Saliba wasted no time in pulling on the rouge et noir shirt for the first time. While he will be officially unveiled to the press this Friday (from 13:00 CET), the centre-half was a starter at Brest in OGC Nice's first game of 2021 (2-0). Despite the defeat for his new team, the defender showed the qualities he's become known for since bursting on to the scene at Saint-Etienne.
10 months after his last Ligue 1 appearance, William Saliba was back on the pitches of France this Wednesday. Handed a start by Adrian Ursea at Brest, the Bondy native was flanked by Nsoki and Daniliuc.
At Stade Francis-Le Blé, the centre-half did his job. A defender who plays the ball out from the back, the former Saint-Etienne player shone through his technical ability. With 78 successful passes from 85, he was the player who had the most successful passes and who boasted the best ratio (level at 91.7% with Atal). Moreover, having touched the ball 92 times, the player loaned by Arsenal was beaten in that department by only Nsoki (95).
15 balls won, the top total in the match
The Aiglon with the deepest average position in the match, Saliba was also convincing in his covering role. Stationed deeper than his team-mates in defence, the 19-year-old won back the ball 15 times, the highest total in the match taking onto account both teams. Handed a yellow card for his only foul of the match, the right-footer was also very clean in his defensive interventions.
His rouge et noir debut was judged "very interesting" by his coach Adrian Ursea: "When a young player of his age comes into a new squad and shows his personality in the middle of a defence he's only known for a day, well I think it's very encouraging for what's to come."
Saliba's performance was praised by the press on Thursday morning. In L'Equipe (6) and Nice-Matin (5), Saliba obtained the best mark of any Nice player.