It’s always strange when a manager appears to pick on one particular player in an attempt to show their disciplinarian side, but you do have to wonder if Mikel Arteta is going to drive William Saliba away from Arsenal.
It’s an odd situation because he’s highly rated and it looks like a lot of the fans wanted him to get a chance, but it’s still not really clear if he’s good enough for the Premier League just now.
Mikel Arteta’s comments would suggest that he isn’t but Saliba has looked solid in Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne and his Nice debut was encouraging, so it’s a strange stance for the Spaniard to take.
He’s publicly criticised Saliba on multiple occasions despite protecting some of the senior players who are a waste of a shirt, and Saliba’s comments during his presentation at Nice suggest his relationship with Arteta is not good at all:
William Saliba cont: “I have not played for 6 months, not since March.”
Journalist: “You missed the Coupe de France.”
Saliba: “(smirks) That too. 2020 was a hard year for me.”
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) January 8, 2021
It’s worth remembering that Arsenal refused to extend his loan spell last season by one more game which meant Saliba didn’t get to play in the cup final, and the reports at the time suggested Saliba was upset by that.
Forcing him to return early just looks even more cruel when you see they never had any intention of giving him a chance in the first team, while you can also see in his comments that he’s taking the high ground and not getting involved in a slagging match with the boss.
That’s a good PR move on Saliba’s part because the entire situation reflects well on him and badly on Arteta and Arsenal, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the summer when the loan spell ends.