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Why Arsenal’s William Saliba named ‘scary’ Virgil van Dijk “the boss” in Premier League

Arsenal‘s William Saliba has named himself in the Premier League‘s top three defenders, but insisted Virgil van Dijk is “the boss.”

Despite being 32 years old, Liverpool defender Van Dijk is still going strong and is revered by younger Premier League centre-backs.

Among them is Arsenal‘s Saliba, who helped Mikel Arteta’s team concede just 29 Premier League goals in the 2023/24 season.

However, he still sees Van Dijk as someone he aspires to play like, despite Liverpool finishing seven points below the Gunners.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) is challenged by Arsenal's William Saliba during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking to L’Equipe, he said: “Van Dijk has aura, for example. He’s the boss, he commands everything.

“You feel he scares attackers, but I’m starting to feel the same way.”

Talking honestly, but maybe not modestly, Saliba added: “I think I am in the top three [defenders in the league], yes.

“We finished as the best defence, I watch a lot of matches. I am a very humble person but last season, just like this season, I am in the top three defenders.”

It is hard to argue with Saliba on that topic however, he still may not start for France at Euro 2024.

In their latest friendly, a 3-0 win over Luxembourg, he started on the bench as Didier Deschamps played three at the back.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 21, 2024: Liverpool's Ryan Gravenberch (#38) celebrates with team-mate captain Virgil van Dijk after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his place were Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde and Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate. Should the Reds’ defender stay fit, he is expected to start for the French.

This will likely be in a back four for the Euros, though Deschamps’ recent selection has caused reason to doubt that.

At the Euros, France face a group containing Poland, Austria and the Netherlands.

The latter should be their toughest, with Van Dijk and co. aiming for their first European Championship glory since 1988, when the competition was also hosted by Germany.

There could be four Liverpool players on the pitch when France play the Netherlands on June 21 at 8pm (BST), with Cody Gakpo and Ryan Gravenberch in the Dutch squad too.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez will feature in Gareth Southgate’s England plans, while Andy Robertson and Dominik Szoboszlai will captain Scotland and Hungary respectively.

Also, Portugal will call upon Diogo Jota and Vitezslav Jaros will act as back-up goalkeeper in the Czech Republic squad.