Premier League

William Saliba explains why Virgil van Dijk is ‘the boss’ in the Premier League

Virgil van Dijk

William Saliba has shared his admiration for Virgil van Dijk yet again, admitting he is keen to replicate the Dutchman’s “aura” on his quest to become a Premier League superstar.

Saliba was instrumental in the Arsenal squad that made a significant push for the Premier League title in the 2023/24 season – Mikel Arteta’s side placing second, just two points behind Manchester City.

Still only 23 years old, Saliba did not shy away from discussing his own quality but admitted Van Dijk still sits a level above at this stage.

Speaking to L’Equipe, Saliba said: “In Arsenal’s defence, I’m one of the leaders. I’m not the guy who talks a lot, but I’m talking more and more. I’m making progress on that.

“Van Dijk has aura, for example. He’s the boss, he commands everything. You feel that he scares the attackers. But I’m starting to feel the same way. I’m starting to see that the strikers feel fear.

“Sometimes, when players are in your zone, they don’t have fun. And when there’s a one-on-one and the player goes backwards, takes the ball out, runs away from the duel – it’s nice.”

Virgil van Dijk

Van Dijk continues to shine for Liverpool / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

The 23-year-old added: “I’m a humble person but last year, like this year, I was in the top three of the best defenders. Of course, I still have work to do to go even higher.

“In terms of my concentration, it’s much better. Before, I could play a top match and sleep a little. This is no longer the case. I always stay alert.”

Saliba has previously praised Van Dijk, notably describing the Reds star last summer as a “good defender to learn from”.

“I really like his quality in one-against-one, his calmness, his composure and his long balls as well,” he said in July 2023. “He has everything.”


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