Future captain? William Saliba given legendary Arsenal shirt number

Arsenal clearly have high hopes for William Saliba after giving the new arrival the legendary number four shirt – which has been worn by a host of the club’s greatest players.

The 19-year-old French centre-back was signed last summer but spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Saint-Etienne, impressing after initially struggling with injuries at the start of the campaign.

Saliba helped his side reach the final of the Coupe de France, which takes place tomorrow, though he will not feature after Arsenal did not agree terms with Saint-Etienne over a loan extension.

The defender is believed to be unhappy with Arsenal’s stance, though his mood will have been lifted with the news that he has been handed the number four shirt – which also suggests he may even slot straight into the starting XI.

Arsenal, who released their new home kit on Thursday, confirmed: ‘Our new centre-back, William Saliba, will wear the number four with Mohamed Elneny agreeing to take the number 25 shirt.’

While Elneny may not be the most prestigious name to follow in the footsteps of, the three previous wearers of the shirt all captained the club and etched their names into Arsenal’s history books.

Before the Egyptian, the number four was worn by Per Mertesacker, who won three FA Cups during his time at the north London club.

Arsenal’s youngest ever skipper, Cesc Fabregas, also wore the number four shirt, which he inherited from one of the club’s greatest ever captains, Patrick Vieira, who wore the armband during the Gunners’ famous Invincibles season.

Mikel Arteta is a big fan of Saliba and is eager to bring him into the Arsenal back-line, saying last month: ‘I know the player. He has the right mentality, the right attitude, the right physique.’

Elsewhere in squad number news, Arsenal also confirmed that breakout star Bukayo Saka will change from the number 77 – which he will wear for the last time in the FA Cup final – to number seven, which was previously worn by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

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