Arsenal star labelled as ‘one of the best’ by Kylian Mbappe as he backs him to start at Euro 2024

Arsenal star labelled as ‘one of the best’ by Kylian Mbappe as he backs him to start at Euro 2024

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Kylian Mbappe has heaped praise on William Saliba as France prepare to embark on their European Championship campaign.

The Arsenal defender has enjoyed another impressive campaign at club level, playing every single minute of his side’s Premier League season as they narrowly missed out on the title to Manchester City.

Saliba is looking to establish himself as one of France's first-choice centre-backs

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Saliba is looking to establish himself as one of France’s first-choice centre-backsCredit: Getty

And while his dominant displays for the Gunners may have earned him a place in France’s Euro 2024 squad, Saliba has frequently found himself a back-up option at centre-back for his national side.

Of his 15 international appearances, seven have been off the bench, with manager Didier Deschamps often preferring Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate as a defensive pairing.

Although Deschamps is yet to be convinced of the 23-year-old’s value, he has been given a huge show of support by his international captain Mbappe, who has backed him to shine this summer.

Speaking to Ouest-France, the Real Madrid-bound superstar revealed that he has long been an admirer of Saliba’s, with the pair growing grown up in same neighbourhood in the suburbs of Paris.

Mbappe said: “I have known him since he was very, very young. We were in the same primary school in Bondy.”

‘We played football together on our breaks, even though we weren’t in the same year, but he asked to play with us.

‘We allowed it because he was already big! Then my dad trained him at AS Bondy. I am three years older than him so I saw him grow up by following his journey and his games closely.”

And the 2018 World Cup winner gushed over his teammate when describing his joy at watching his rise over the years.

Mbappe and Saliba will be hoping to help France to a first European Championship win since Euro 2000

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Mbappe and Saliba will be hoping to help France to a first European Championship win since Euro 2000
Saliba has formed a rock-solid defensive duo with Gabriel at Arsenal

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Saliba has formed a rock-solid defensive duo with Gabriel at ArsenalCredit: Getty

He continued: “Seeing him in the national team, going from Bondy to Les Bleus, made me really happy. I tried to integrate him into the group as quickly as possible.

The star later added: “I look at his journey with the pride of an older brother.

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“There is no taboo between us and we tease each other. For example, I often tell him that he wants to be the star of Bondy, but that it will never happen!”

Mbappe then voiced his belief that it is only a matter of time before the centre-half becomes a regular in France’s starting line-up.

The outgoing PSG man explained: “This season, he has become a very important player for Arsenal and is among the best centre-backs in the Premier League.

“He is starting to get minutes with us. It’s now up to him to find his place. For me, he has all the qualities to, in time, be a starter with Les Bleus.”

This vote of confidence from his captain will have boosted Saliba’s hopes of playing a key role for Les Blues in Germany, having previously come in for criticism from his manager for his performances for his nation.

Speaking in March, Deschamps said of the Arsenal man: “He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much.

“For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well.” 

Having started in France’s final warm-up match ahead of the tournament against Canada, Saliba will hope to keep a hold of his shirt as he and his teammates look to kick their Euro 2024 campaign in style off against Austria.

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