We’ve all seen a transfer which just hasn’t worked out at all, but there’s something incredibly unusual about Arsenal’s treatment on William Saliba.
It was a surprise when he was signed for a fee of €30m in the summer of 2019 and immediately loaned back to St Etienne at a time when Arsenal didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so it suggested they simply felt he was an outstanding prospect that they couldn’t pass up on.
He returned from that loan spell last summer and it was widely expected that he would be the future of the defence, but it’s just not worked out like that at all.
He was left out of the Europa League squad when playing time was given to the likes of Mustafi, while he was also left out of the Carabao Cup game against Man City when claims were made that he could’ve played but Arteta fundamentally didn’t understand how the squad rules worked for the competition.
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He’s currently left in a situation where he’s stuck in the U23 squad so he’s obviously too good for that level, but Mikel Arteta just doesn’t want to give him a chance in the first team at all.
There aren’t any signs of outrageous behaviour or disciplinary problems so it must be the case that he’s not ready for first team football, but the latest reports from France suggest Arsenal could make the shock decision to simply cash in on him before he even gets a chance:
A meeting between Arsenal & William Saliba last week saw both parties agree to be open to accepting both permanent & loan departure opportunities this month, according to L’Équipe.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) January 1, 2021
It just makes no sense that he’s gone from a player worth shelling out €30m on to being written off and probably sold on for a loss without playing a minute of league football.
It’s possible that Arteta is trying to make a point by writing off a player from a previous regime but that makes little sense either, while it could be that he’s painted himself into the same corner that he has with Mesut Ozil.
Like Ozil, if Saliba came into the team now and looked impressive then fingers would be pointed at the manager for refusing to play someone who could’ve helped the team, so he might just want him gone from the club so he’s not a distraction anymore.
Either way it would be a dreadful piece of business from Arsenal if he leaves permanently and they lose money, but it does look like a possibility.