EPL

Saliba reveals Arsenal contract talks following strong start to Premier League season

By Sports Desk October 03, 2022

Arsenal defender William Saliba has revealed he is in talks over a new contract at the Emirates Stadium after making a fine start to the season.

Having returned from a loan spell at Marseille ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, Saliba has started all eight of Arsenal's Premier League games this season, seven of which have ended in victory.

Saliba has formed a fearsome defensive partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes during Arsenal's best start to a Premier League campaign since 2007-08 – when they went on to finish third after taking 22 points from their first eight matches.

The France international's current deal runs until 2024, and he is hopeful of reaching an agreement to extend his stay.

Asked whether he could agree fresh terms after impressing in Saturday's 3-1 derby win over Tottenham, Saliba said: "Yeah, we will see. They [the club and his representatives] talk a little bit."

Saliba believes Arsenal are growing in confidence with each victory, adding: "You have to wait every time and I waited a long time for my first North London Derby. I enjoyed it from the first minute to the end, and now I am so happy. 

"We are so happy to win at home against Tottenham. It was a hard game, but we were focused all the game. We deserve this win.

"We play against the best players in the world. It is good for young players like me, and I learn a lot.

"The more we win, the more we are confident. We want every week to win, to win, to win — and that's it."

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has watched Saliba's development from close quarters in the season's early weeks, and has described him as a "Rolls-Royce" of a defender. 

"He has fit in really well," Ramsdale said. "It is a credit to him that he has been put straight into the team. He is a bit of a Rolls-Royce with the way he moves, and he has never seemed fazed.

"He is still a young boy so still makes mistakes, so at the minute it is either Ben [White], myself, Gabriel or Thomas Partey digging him out and he is digging other people out as well.

"That is the main thing at the minute, our mistakes aren't leading to too many things and that is the sign of a team who have good characters in and around that back five."

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    Brazil defender Dani Alves has no doubt over what he can offer to Tite's World Cup squad, despite being 39.

    Former Barcelona and Juventus full-back Alves made the 26-man selection for Qatar, but is yet to feature at the tournament.

    That seems set to change on Friday, with Tite set to ring the changes for Brazil's final Group G match against Cameroon, given the Selecao's place in the last 16 is already assured.

    While acknowledging he is no longer at his peak, Alves – who made his Brazil debut in 2006 – is sure on just what he can bring to the team.

    "[I'm] very proud to be able to be here," he said at a press conference.

    "I have been doing so for many years with the squad, so to be able to wrap up this cycle by playing in the World Cup makes me very happy.

    "When you work hard, dedicate yourself and go after what you want, you'll go places you would never have thought of. That's what life is giving me.

    "All my 16 years on the squad, I have done my best for the team. Life always rewards the people who love what they do and do their very best on the mission.

    "I am reaping what I have planted over those 16 years. It's normal that people question this because of my age or because I am not at my best, but at the World Cup it's not about being your best for a club, but having your best moment at the tournament.

    "In the two matches that I wasn't present, our team needed a better defender in my position, I'm good as an attacker – that's a plan that we have established here, to know how the team plays and what will be demanded of a player.

    "I am here to serve the team. If I have to play the drum, I will be the best drummer out there. 

    "I know what I can do for the team and know there are other players at a better moment than I for what is requested. I know I can deliver, know what I can deliver.

    "Trust is something you don't ask for, it's something you obtain. I have obtained the trust."

    Tite believes Alves sets the prime example to the younger players in his squad.

    "We represent people with a lot of love, a lot of pride, passion and dedication," Tite said.

    "Dani is an example of that. He does everything with high quality. I greatly respect those who have got to where he has. He is much more than football, much more than a player on the pitch."

    Two of the younger players Tite will be hoping are looking to emulate Alves are wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Antony, with both options to start against Cameroon.

    Both players were featuring in Sao Paulo Youth Cup only three years ago, and Alves believes their success is proof hard work pays off.

    "A few years ago they were playing a minor tournament and now they're at the World Cup," Alves said. "It shows their dedication, and shows how we need to mature quickly. They deserve to be here, that's their reward.

    "We win when everybody plays at the same level, on and off the field. I think this is the most balanced team we have ever had."

    Brazil will be without the injured Neymar and Danilo against Cameroon, though both have progressed to working in the swimming pool.

    Should the Selecao win Group G, they will play against the runners-up of Group H on Monday in the last 16.

  • Still no Lukaku start and Hazard on bench for do-or-die Belgium clash Still no Lukaku start and Hazard on bench for do-or-die Belgium clash

    Romelu Lukaku remained on the bench for Belgium's game against Croatia and was joined there by Red Devils captain Eden Hazard.

    Belgium have endured a tumultuous week ahead of a World Cup match they almost certainly must win in order to advance from Group F.

    Reports of a rift within the camp were dismissed as "fake news" by Roberto Martinez at his pre-match news conference.

    In the same media briefing, Martinez said Lukaku – who returned from injury as a substitute in the defeat to Morocco – was "ready".

    However, he added: "Now we have to see how much he can play."

    The answer, it appears, was not enough to start, with Lukaku again left out of the XI and finding company on the bench in the form of skipper Hazard.

    Michy Batshuayi, Lukaku's deputy, also made way as four changes saw an apparent move to a 3-4-3 formation.

    Dries Mertens looked set to lead the line, supported by Yannick Carrasco and Leandro Trossard.

    Croatia were unchanged after beating Canada 4-1 in their previous match to take control of the group heading into matchday three.

  • 'We wish him much health' – Pele gets message of support from Brazil's World Cup squad 'We wish him much health' – Pele gets message of support from Brazil's World Cup squad

    Pele is in the thoughts of Brazil's World Cup stars as he undergoes treatment in hospital, head coach Tite said on Thursday.

    Three-time World Cup winner Pele, regarded among the greatest players of all time, is receiving medical care at home in Brazil.

    The 82-year-old underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.

    His daughter, Kely Nascimento, has said there is "no surprise or emergency" over her father's hospitalisation after he was admitted this week.

    Particularly coming at a time when a World Cup is taking place and he is not present, the news of Pele needing hospital attention has caused concern for many.

    Tite read out a statement before taking questions at Brazil's press conference, saying: "We all wish a lot of health to Pele.

    "We found out the news from the press. He’s the biggest representative of the national team and we wish him much health. That is the feeling of all the squad, we wish Pele the very best."

    Pele's daughter said in her statement on Wednesday that "the media is freaking out again", adding that she planned to visit her father in the new year, with her brothers visiting at present.

    As Brazil got their tournament under way last week, Pele sent the squad a message of good luck. He was a World Cup winner in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

    He wrote on Instagram: "Today we start writing a new story. No matter the size and tradition of the opponents: we must respect and play each match with the focus of a final.

    "It is important to play beautifully, yes, but it is also essential to leave everything on the pitch.

    "Today, we will be more than 200 million hearts beating as one, vibrating with each achievement of our Selecao.

    "I am sending all positive energies to you. I'm sure we'll have a happy ending. God bless you. Bring this trophy home!"

    Brazil have begun their campaign with a 2-0 win over Serbia and a 1-0 success against Switzerland, rounding off their Group G campaign against Cameroon on Friday.

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