Arsenal Transfer News: The Gunners already know their perfect William Saliba partner – Jeanuel Belocian

Tom Weber
Tom Weber

  • Updated: 15 Mar 2024 15:40 GMT
  • 8 min read
Mikel Arteta, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Arsenal

Arsenal are keeping a close eye on French wonderkid Jeanuel Belocian, according to a report.

The 19-year-old defender has burst onto the scene this season at Stade Rennais, becoming a familiar face in the Bretons’ side. Though he has been somewhat overshadowed by the stunning emergence of Leny Yoro at Lille, this Ligue 1 wonderkid appears destined for the top.

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Indeed, according to HITC, Arsenal have begun taking a keen interest in Belocian’s development. The Gunners have identified the Frenchman as an alternative to Jorrel Hato, who is himself a highly-rated youngster.

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Belocian is reportedly viewed as a contingency option in light of the news that Hato has extended his Ajax contract. According to Fabrizio Romano, this means that the Dutchman will likely stay with the Amsterdam giants until at least 2025, forcing Arsenal to look at different options.

Jeanuel Belocian
© IMAGO – Jeanuel Belocian

Belocian going to the top

The Gunners would certainly be well advised to make a move for Belocian. According to data experts SciSports, the 19-year-old is already further along in his development than Hato, though he has slightly less overall potential. Nevertheless, the youngster has the ceiling to become one of Europe’s best defenders.

What makes Belocian so interesting to Arsenal is the fact that he is versatile, like many of Arsenal’s defenders, including summer signing Jurrien Timber as well as Ben White, Jakub Kiwior and Takehiro Tomiyasu. Mikel Arteta wants his defenders to be able to play centrally and out wide, hence why he is looking at Hato and Belocian, both of whom can play at left-back as well as centre-back.

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Jeanuel Belocian's development (yellow) vs Gabriel (blue) and William Saliba (red)
© SciSports – Jeanuel Belocian’s development (yellow) vs Gabriel (blue) and William Saliba (red)

Intriguingly, SciSports believe that Belocian could become a better player than Gabriel Magalhaes, making him a prime candidate to become William Saliba‘s long-term partner at the heart of the north London club’s defence.

Gabriel, it must be recalled, was being courted by Saudi sides in the summer and they could return in the upcoming transfer window, with the Brazilian himself admitting that Arteta had to convince him to stay last year.

Jeanuël Belocian

2023/2024 | Ligue 1 (FRA)

Centre back (927 Minutes played)

99% StopperBall PlayingDefenderBall WinningDefender

Gabriel Magalhães

2023/2024 | Premier League (ENG)

Centre back (2347 Minutes played)

99% StopperBall PlayingDefenderBall WinningDefender

SciSports rate Belocian among the top ten U21 centre-backs in Europe in terms of potential. Intriguingly, the youngster is out of contract in 2025, which means that Rennes will need to sell in the summer or risk losing him for free next year, presenting an ideal opportunity for Arsenal to pounce on one of the biggest talents on the continent.

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