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William Saliba given major World Cup blow ahead of France clash amid Didier Deschamps choice

Football.London

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Arsenal’s star centre-back William Saliba has been warned that things won’t be the same for France as they are for his club.

The 21-year-old earned a call-up to Didier Deschamps’ 26-man squad for the World Cup and Les Bleus start their defence of the world crown on Tuesday night against Australia.

Having previously not played a game for the Gunners Saliba has already become one of Mikel Arteta’s most important players after taking quickly to life in the Premier League. He’s now played all 14 matches, only being subbed off in one game.

READ MORE: Full list of Arsenal players going to Qatar 2022 World Cup including Thomas Partey decision

Having been a standout player for Marsielle on loan – he signed in North London from St Etienne in 2019 – Saliba was approaching a sensitive summer with interest in him extremely high, but Arteta trusted him with taking over the defence and has been rewarded.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that fortunes will transfer straight into the national team though, and France World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu has warned him not to expect to start in Qatar. He said, “He has developed extremely well over the past few months and he deserves a place in central defence for the Gunners.

“Now he will not start the World Cup as a regular player, but you never know what will happen afterwards.

“So far he has used his chance with the Equipe Tricolore during his deployment times. He can be thrown in at the deep end at any time, he will do his job with confidence and a lot of vigour. On the other hand, he certainly has a lot of competition from Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate and Bayern’s Dayot Upamecano.”

Saliba only made his debut in March but has played seven times for Deschamps since then. He’s played in all but one of the matches available to him in that time but only started four. With Presnel Kimpembe out injured there is an added opportunity, but Lizarazu doesn’t see Deschamps playing with a three-man defence.

“In my opinion, the back four is the best system,” he added. “The French national team needs more self-confidence and better automatisms after the Nations League went badly.

“It will be easier to show the World Cup face from 2018 again with a back four, because with this tactic the French are more stable, more balanced and the automatisms simply work better. This is how France became world champions in 1998 and 2018.”

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