ARSENAL new boy William Saliba was referred to as a “monster” by his former coach – who likened him to Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane.
The 6ft 4in Frenchman was signed by the Gunners last season but immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne.
Having impressed again in Ligue 1, the 19-year-old has since linked up with his Arsenal team-mates ahead of the new season.
And Saliba’s physical presence has been hailed by his ex-French youth coach Jean-Luc Vannuchi – who was left stunned by the defender.
Vannuchi told The Telegraph: “My first impression was that this was the biggest man of his generation.
“The difference between him and the other players was massive.
“When he took the ball and ran into midfield, no one could stop him. He was like a monster compared to the others.
“When he played with St-Etienne it looked normal for him, even though he was so young.”
His playing style has been compared to Real Madrid’s Varane and Liverpool star Van Dijk.
Vannuchi said: “A mix of the two styles.
“With Varane because of his speed and power, and with Van Dijk it is the interceptions, the positioning on the pitch.”
Saliba will be joined by Brazilian Gabriel Magalhaes, who snubbed “more lucrative offers” to join Arsenal.
The 22-year-old Lille centre-half is on the verge of moving to the Emirates in a £25million deal with Mikel Arteta’s defensive revolution nearly complete.
Magalhaes’s agent Guilherme Miranda explained: “Arsenal was nowhere near the best proposal [money-wise].
“Gabriel chose them over more lucrative offers because Edu convinced us of the project.
“It’s 100 per cent because of Edu Gaspar and Arteta.”