William Saliba proved his worth to Saint-Etienne yet again by helping them to a clean sheet against Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday, and the stats show just how vital he is to them.
Saliba played his first 90 minutes of league football this season over the weekend, starting in the Derby Rhone-Alpes against Olympique Lyonnais. It was a huge match to be reintroduced to Ligue 1 in, particularly as his side sat bottom of the table pre-match.
It certainly wasn’t an easy game for the centre-back, but he managed to help his team grind out three points to carry them all the way up to 13th. The 1-0 win meant yet another clean sheet with Saliba in the team, a common occurrence at this point.
With Saliba in the team in Ligue 1, Saint-Etienne have taken 38 points from 18 games (2.11 points per game) and kept 10 clean sheets, a 56% clean sheet percentage.
Without Saliba, the team have managed 39 points from 29 games (1.34 points per game), only keeping five clean sheets, a 17% clean sheet percentage.
Whether the Arsenal loanee can keep that record going over the course of another full season is a different matter, but his record so far suggests Saint-Etienne are much more solid at the back when he’s involved.
It’s possible there’s a psychological element to their success with him. The players know how well the 18-year-old has performed so far, they know Arsenal spent £27m to sign him this summer, they’re obviously going to feel more confident when he’s in the team.
The rest is down to Saliba’s individual talents though, and if he keeps developing in the right way he could have big future ahead of him.