William Saliba expected to start for France in Euro 2024 opener

  • French media reporting that William Saliba will start vs Austria
  • Saliba hasn't yet shown best form for the national team
  • Defender has been a revelation at Arsenal since first-team integration
William Saliba is unlikely to start for France at Euro 2024
William Saliba is unlikely to start for France at Euro 2024 / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Arsenal supporters are well aware that they've got something quite special in William Saliba, and it finally appears as if France manager Didier Deschamps has come around to the idea, too.

The Gunners centre-back, according to reports in France, is expected to start France's Euro 2024 opener against Austria on Monday.

Deschamps has a remarkable array of majestic centre-halves at his disposal. and Deschamps has so far favoured alternatives, even if they haven't matched Saliba's level for their clubs over the past couple of years.

Thus, heading into Euro 2024, Bayern Munich's Dayot Upamecano was expected to partner Liverpool's Ibrahima Konate at the back. However, it seems as if Deschamps has had a change of heart.

William Saliba expected to start for France in Euro 2024 opener

William Saliba
William Saliba is projected to start for France against Austria on Monday / Catherine Steenkeste/GettyImages

This is Saliba's second major tournament as part of the French squad. The Arsenal man travelled to the 2022 World Cup after starring at the start of his Gunners career, but the young centre-back started just one game - a dead rubber against Tunisia to conclude the group stage.

Saliba has continued to blossom in north London and there was never any doubt over his inclusion in the manager's 26-man squad for Euro 2024. However, Saliba, who has 15 caps since making his debut in March 2022, wasn't initially expected to play a major role for the pre-tournament favourites.

"He is having a good season (with Arsenal), but he also does things I don’t like so much,” Deschamps said back in March. “For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well."

Saliba certainly had played within himself at times for Les Bleus, but Deschamps added that he'd continue to "persevere" with the Arsenal star. His talent certainly hasn't been ignored by the French coach, and Deschamps is reportedly ready to unleash the Arsenal man this summer.

There were initial murmurs from Fabrice Hawkins that the coaching staff were considering Saliba for Monday's game against Austria, with L'Equipe (via Eduardo Hagn) now reporting that the Arsenal star will start. Julien Laurens noted on Friday that Saliba started alongside Upamecano for the project starters in training.

Thus, it seems like a rare national team start for Saliba is in the offing. The classy centre-back has all the talent in the world to star on the grand stage, and we'd love nothing more than for Wilo to shine just as long as he returns injury-free!