Arsenal completed something of a coup this summer when they won the race for the £27million signature of St-Etienne’s teenage centre-back William Saliba.
Still just 18, Saliba is spending the season back on loan at St-Etienne, where he performances have reportedly alerted Real Madrid.
And the defender’s importance to the French outfit is summed up by the performances of the team when he starts in Ligue 1 compared to when he doesn’t.
Across the whole of 2019 to date, Saliba has started 13 times in Ligue 1, with St-Etienne winning 11 of those fixtures – a win rate of 84.6%.
Remarkably, St-Etienne have conceded just six goals in those games – 0.46 goals per game. Saliba missed the start of the 2019-20 due to a hamstring injury, but they has helped keep clean sheets in three of his four starts this term, against Lyon, Monaco and Bordeuax.
Over the second half of 2018-19, St-Etienne kept clean sheets in six of his nine Ligue 1 starts.
When William Saliba returned from injury, Saint-Étienne were in the relegation zone. Since then, they’ve kept four clean sheets in five Ligue Un games, remained unbeaten in the Europa League and they now find themselves just two points off second place domestically.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) November 4, 2019
St-Etienne have played 19 Ligue 1 matches in 2019 without Saliba starting, winning just five of those – meaning their win rate drops to 26.3%.
In those games, they have conceded 28 goals at an average of 1.47 per game.
There are obviously other contributing factors to these contrasts, but it undoubtedly reflects well on Saliba and bodes well for the Gunners, as long as they can keep him away from Real Madrid.