Vermaelen on Saliba, Mikel and his love of Arsenal

Thomas Vermaelen speaking to the crowd before our Liverpool game

Our former skipper Thomas Vermaelen knows a thing or two about the art of defending, and he believes that in William Saliba, we have an incredible talent.

The Belgian spent five years at Emirates Stadium between 2009 and 2014, making 150 appearances during that time and being part of the squad that won the FA Cup in his final campaign.

Thomas recently returned to north London to take in our FA Cup tie against Liverpool, and popped into the Breakdown Live studio pre-match to give his take on the club that he still holds so much affection for, with one player in particular having caught his eye.

On Saliba, he said: “He’s a great player. He has everything a modern defender needs to have - he’s quick, he’s a great defender, he’s good on the ball.

“He has a great partnership with Gabriel as well which is very important. They’re doing an amazing job.”

During the latter half of Thomas’ time in red and white, he played alongside Mikel Arteta - someone he always believed had the potential to become a top manager once he hung up his boots.

Thomas Vermaelen lifts the FA Cup alongside Mikel Arteta

Now our former centre-back watches his ex-teammate transforming the fortunes of his old club, and he admits that the way our players express themselves on the pitch only strengthens his love for Arsenal.

“Mikel was a great player and already a great leader for us in the team,” Thomas said. “I was saying it from early as well - he was one of those who was destined to become a manager.

“You could see how he was on the pitch - talking to the players and always involved in how we wanted to play. He was a true leader for us already in that team. You can see he’s doing an amazing job now.

“When I watch the games on TV, the team are always exciting to watch. You look at the players and feel like you have a feeling [of identity] with them. Sometimes you look at a team and you’re not really connected with them but with this team, you really love to watch them.”

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