Some Arsenal fans were left livid after big-money talent William Saliba was completely left out of the squad for tonight’s tie against Manchester City, with Mikel Arteta questioned on the ace after the defeat.
Arteta was quizzed on why the 19-year-old – who is yet to make his competitive debut for the Gunners – was shunned despite rotation to the backline for the Carabao Cup quarter-finals clash.
Then came some pretty confusing comments from Arteta, the Arsenal boss seemed to suggest that Saliba wasn’t selected as he didn’t believe that the defender would be eligible for the EFL cup tie.
Rules state that any player that is registered/available for the Premier League – in this case Saliba automatically is as someone under the age of 21 – are also eligible for League Cup games.
Arteta brushed over the journalist’s search for clarification on the apparent blunder from the boss and the club, before the Spaniard commented on Saliba’s immediate future with the side.
Arsenal’s former captain turned boss confirmed they are ‘talking about’ a January loan exit for the promising defender, in a move that would offer the ace regular first-team football.
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Here’s what Mikel Arteta has had to say on William Saliba not having a chance tonight and the prospect of a January loan exit for the big-money Arsenal defender… pic.twitter.com/O0CC7tJqaZ
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) December 22, 2020
Arteta: “Yeah, but he cannot be involved because he’s not in the squad.”
Journalist: “He’s not in the squad? I was under the impression he was eligible to play in the EFL games?”
Arteta: “No, we made that decision with him and we will see what we’re going to do in January.”
Journalist: “So is the plan to loan him out?”
Arteta: “We are talking about it, yes.”
Saliba was signed last summer for a fee of £27m as per BBC Sport, with that transfer deal seeing the ace spend last season back with his boyhood club Saint-Etienne.
Unfortunately, injury troubles and Ligue 1 deciding to curtail the season left Saliba with much less action than anyone would’ve hoped for, making his case to feature this term even more difficult.
Effectively as the new Premier League season started, Arteta could call on his in-form defenders that finished impressively in England’s summer restart – plus new recruit Gabriel Magalhaes – whilst Saliba’s last bit of action came at the start of March.
Saliba has instead been left to featured at Under-23s/Under-21s level this season, appearing six times in Premier League 2 and twice as the side were knocked out of the EFL Trophy.
The France Under-20s international has shown a glimpse of the quality he could bring to the struggling first-team, but once again things out of Saliba’s hands have prevented him from having a chance.
Arteta was seemingly confused regarding the registration and eligibility rules during his post-match conference, that may be an unforgivable blunder that could impact Saliba come January.
An impressive outing could’ve shown that the ace was ready for first-team action, but the fact that he didn’t have that opportunity may well weigh into the club’s decision regarding a loan exit.