Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was once again questioned about William Saliba ahead of the north London outfit’s Europa League tie against Dundalk tomorrow evening.
Chris Wheatley noted that ‘lots’ of Arsenal fans are ‘desperate’ for the centre-back to feature, Saliba was signed last summer for a fee of £27m as per BBC Sport.
Saliba was immediately loaned back out to boyhood club Saint-Etienne as part of the deal, becoming eligible for the Gunners since this season, however he’s yet to make his competitive debut.
Arteta stated that Saliba has made ‘massive improvements’ over the last few months but refused to offer when the defender will be in action for the first-team, suggesting ‘whenever we have the spaces’.
The key topic from Arteta’s comments were regarding a possible loan move for Saliba in January, with the gaffer confirming that this will be ‘decided in the next few weeks’, with talks ongoing.
Saliba was in action for Arsenal’s Under-21s in the EFL Trophy last night, however the starlet was sent off in the 89th minute of the 3-0 defeat against Wimbledon for this.
Arteta believes that the day was still a ‘positive’ one for the Gunners as Gabriel Martinelli returned to action with a 45-minute outing after a lengthy knee injury.
Here’s what Mikel Arteta had to say on William Saliba and the prospect of a loan in January as well as Gabriel Martinelli’s return to action for the Under-21s last night… pic.twitter.com/6QiSYxpJvk
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) December 9, 2020
Here’s what the Arsenal boss had to say on the Frenchman, echoing much of the comments he’s made when previously quizzed about the youngster:
“Whenever we have the spaces and we believe that he’s ready to play with us. To be fair, he’s made massive improvements in the last few months and it’s been a really tricky situation for him.”
“As we mentioned before, designed a pathway for him, and last year we could not fill that in, because a lot of things that happened to him – in his personal life and professionally as well.”
“Now we’ve made some steps forwards, he’s working really hard.”
“That was a good game because Martinelli finally came back for 45 minutes, so I think it was a really positive day for us in terms of that.”
Here’s what Arteta had to say on the prospect of a loan move for the talent in January:
“It’s something that we are discussing at the moment what the best thing for us to do. It will be decided in the next few weeks.
The defender has actually only been included in the matchday squad on two occasions, the Community Shield and the side’s first Carabao Cup tie against Leicester.
Arsenal have a plethora of options in central defence, but as performances have shown it’s more a case of quantity over quality at the Emirates Stadium.
Arteta already has more options than he needs to choose from – especially when Kieran Tierney is featuring as a left centre-back quite often – with Gabriel Magalhaes, David Luiz, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis and the returning Calum Chambers.
Sending Saliba out on loan when the January transfer window opens may well be the best options for all parties, all things considered.
After the unforeseen issues Saliba had to deal with last season, Arsenal can’t risk another season of no considerable first-team action that could hinder the ace’s development.