Former Arsenal and Manchester City right back Bacary Sagna has named Gabriel Martinelli and Phil Foden as the Premier League’s two outstanding attacking players this season, while also stating that Arsenal’s William Saliba is the best centre back in the division.
As part of a varied interview, Sagna backed Brighton to keep surprising people and claimed that the seaside clubs’ football is only surpassed by Manchester City and Arsenal. Despite praising Roberto de Zerbi’s men, Sagna does think that Brighton will be “a little bit short” competing for a place in the top four.
Bacary’s full interview can be found on Genting Casino.
Foden has had a phenomenal impact on City:
Phil Foden has impressed me again this season. It is not unusual to see what he is doing for his club and what he is doing at such a young age. Honestly, when I saw him training at sixteen, his progression, maturity and development as a player is just magnificent. The way that he plays is so brave. He takes responsibility on the pitch and tries to make things happen for his team. He has the character and the personality to play in the biggest matches. I think he has also shown fantastic leadership, not through shouting and screaming, but with his ability on the pitch. The impact that he has had on this Manchester City team in the last few years is absolutely phenomenal. You forget that he is only twenty-three years old.
Sagna labels Martinelli as fearless and audacious when naming him as Premier League’s best:
I really love Gabriel Martinelli. He is having a big impact for Arsenal whenever he plays. He is a completely fearless player. When he gets the ball, he has one thing on his mind and that is to take on players and beat them. He has audacity. That is what you need if you want to be a top player at a big club, you need to have audacity and courage to perform from a very young age. Martinelli has that. It’s not easy to do what he is doing in the best league in the world. It’s not easy to make an impact at one of the biggest clubs in the world, but Martinelli does it without any pressure. Everything that he does on the pitch is impactful for Arsenal and he gives them so much with and without the ball.
Saliba is Arsenal’s most important player and the best centre back in the Premier League:
I think he is Arsenal’s most important player. When he got injured last year, Arsenal started to lose points because he is the pillar of the defence. I think Arsenal could have been champions if Saliba stayed fit. There aren’t many players that can keep Erling Haaland, the best striker in the world, quiet. Saliba is one of them. He is so composed on the ball. Physically, he doesn’t get bullied. His performances are so mature. He is a natural leader. He is humble; he never shows off on the pitch after he does something well. You never see him react. He is always so cold-blooded. He does things on the pitch naturally and performs his job perfectly. He has a brilliant focus. That is the mark of the best players, when they do something well on the pitch, they treat it as just a part of their job. I think Saliba is the best centre back in the league. With his spirit and humility, he will continue to get better and better.
Sagna claims Brighton football under De Zerbi only bettered by Arsenal and Manchester City:
I think Brighton still have the capacity to surprise people in the Premier League. When you watch Brighton play, it is magnificent. I think they play the third best football in the Premier League behind Manchester City and Arsenal. I haven’t seen any other team (apart from Manchester City and Arsenal) playing as well as Brighton. They play with a wonderful spirit and all of the players fight for each other. You can tell that all of the players are enjoying this type of football, and they deserve a lot of credit for the way that they play. With De Zerbi, I said as soon as he came into the Premier League that he would be fantastic. I played under him at Benevento in Serie A. After one training session, I could tell he was going to be a great coach. It was a feeling I had based on how much he loved football but also by how much he wanted his players to take responsibility on the ball and to play. He wanted the players to enjoy what they’re doing. His passion and attention to detail in every single training session was magnificent. I had a feeling after working with him that he reminded me of Pep Guardiola. In Italy, when I said this to some of my teammates, they made fun of me. They didn’t believe me and thought I was complimenting him to get into the team (laughs)! I didn’t compliment him for those reasons, I complimented him because I had total belief in his abilities as a coach. It looks like I was spot on with my opinion. Some people understood what I meant, some didn’t.
Sagna rules out Brighton top four finish:
I think Brighton will be a little bit short to challenge for the top four in the Premier League. They play amazing football, but they are competing against teams with bigger squads and bigger budgets. There are other teams in the Premier League that are in front of them. I also think that Brighton will find it difficult to juggle playing in the Europa League and in the Premier League. They will have to rotate their players so it will be hard for them to find a rhythm and consistency that can carry you to the top of the table. That is why I think they will be a little bit short to challenge for the top four this season.
Our old defender doesn’t mention Aston Villa though. They look in good form so far this season.
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