Much to the anger of Arsenal supporters, Mikel Arteta and Edu decided that William Saliba was not ready for the Premier League, and the Frenchman was sent out on loan for the third time since joining the club.
The 20-year-old was viewed by many as one of the best young defenders in world football when Unai Emery signed him. He spent his first season as an Arsenal player on loan at his boyhood club Saint-Etienne, and despite a ton of injuries and personal issues, he performed well.
Fans were absolutely convinced that he would get his chance at the Emirates, but Arteta disagreed. He kept him away from the first team in the first half of last season, and then shipped him out on loan to French side Nice at the start of this year.
Saliba was absolutely outstanding for Les Aiglons. We all felt that he was ready to play in the Premier League, but Arteta, again, wasn’t convinced. The Frenchman was told to go out on loan one more time, and Marseille won the race for his signature.
Fabrizio Romano: William Saliba was on the same page as Arsenal
Many Arsenal supporters felt that Saliba would be furious with Arteta and Edu for the way they have treated him. However, Fabrizio Romano has revealed that the young defender completely agreed with the Gunners hierarchy, and that there’s no bad blood between either party whatsoever.
He said on The Arsenal Lounge: “They want him to play 38 matches, that’s the point, and the player is on the same page. He prefers to play 38 matches at another club now and then coming back to Arsenal and showing his skills as a top centre-back, because, at Arsenal, they are convinced that he is a top centre-back.
“The opportunity with Marseille was considered perfect because it’s not an easy club. It will be a great test for the player. If Saliba will show his skills this season, they are convinced that he will be prepared to be a starter at Arsenal next season, maybe with Ben White together. The player was on the same page. He said ‘I’m open, let’s decide together’.”
Asked if the deal was done on bad terms, Romano said: No no no, they are convinced that he will be one for the future.”
This really is fantastic to hear. Many of us were worried that Saliba would take this the wrong way and look for a permanent move away from Arsenal next summer. Thankfully, he fully agrees with Arteta and Edu, and we hope that he comes back an even better player next season.