There are a couple of different ways at looking at the William Saliba situation at Arsenal, but it may still take a few years to figure out if it’s been handled correctly.
There are many fans who are understandably annoyed that the club spent money on a player who’s still nowhere near the first-team despite having obvious talent, but you could also argue that Mikel Arteta is just taking a longer-term view to his development.
Football is full of promising young defenders who were given too much responsibility too soon and they end up losing all confidence and their development just stalls, so if Arteta doesn’t plan to play him next season then a loan move to Marseille might be the best option for him:
? Exclusive: Arsenal defender William Saliba looks set to join Marseille on loan. Not done but 20yo has picked #OM from many options & now clubs need to agree deal. #AFC want him to get full season playing — still part of long-term thinking @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/RemZlyyb5J
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) July 2, 2021
This will be his third loan spell in Ligue 1 after spells with Nice and St Etienne, but Marseille are a bigger club with some very demanding fans so this could be the making of the young defender if he handles the pressure and does well.
Of course there may be fears that Arsenal are ready to write him off and just want to sell him, but this latest update suggests that isn’t he case at all:
William Saliba (20) has chosen to join Marseille on loan without an option to buy – waiting for OM & Arsenal to conclude the deal. https://t.co/peLuNeCv6o
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) July 3, 2021
If there is no option to buy included in there then it fully suggests that the plan is to bring him back in the summer of 2022 with a view to giving him a chance in the team, but even if they do want to sell him then it still looks like they’ve made the right call.
From Arsenal’s point of view, all an option to buy would do is limit what they could sell him for, and the club would be ridiculed if he had an outstanding year before being sold for less than his market value.
Everything here points to Saliba eventually having a future in Arsenal’s first team, but it will just take more patience than you would expect when you consider he was bought for £27m.