Teenaged center back William Saliba is hitting out at Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta for failing to give him the opportunity to show what he could deliver to the Gunners. Signed from St. Etienne for £27 million in 2019, Sailba remains on loan to Nice in his native France. He’s never made a first-team senior appearance for Arsenal since his transfer to the club.
Still only 19, there were expectations at the start of the current campaign that Saliba might be given a chance to shine as part of Arteta’s new-look Arsenal side. He showed well in a pre-season friendly against MK Dons. However, Arteta left Saliba off the club’s roster for the group stages of the Europa League. Going through the first half of the Premier League campaign without making a first-team appearance, Saliba was sent out on loan for the second successive season.
Considering the struggles that the Gunners have endured this season, Saliba might just have a point about not being given any sort of look with the club. Currently 11th in the table with 31 points from 23 matches, you could join up with an online sports betting site, grab yourself a sign up bonus offerto wager on the Gunners, and then access +50,000 odds that Arsenal will win the 2020-21 Premier League title. Or you could play +1800 odds that Arsenal will finish the season among the top four clubs in the table.
His first month on loan couldn’t have gone much better for Saliba. He’s played seven matches for Nice and in January, was named the club’s player of the month.
While with Arsenal this season, Saliba made two appearances for the club’s under-23 side in the Football League Trophy. Considering Arsenal’s woes at center back, many wondered why Saliba wasn’t given a look.
"I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that,” Saliba told RMC Sport. “When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good, so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.”
It’s the third time in as many weeks that Saliba has lashed out at Arteta regarding how the skipper has overlooked him.
"It hurt me, it affected me,” Saliba told TF1. “I don't think I left too early. When you feel ready you have to go. I don't think I left too early. These things happen. I believe in myself.
"Honestly, if you told me a year ago, I honestly would not have believed you. I really, really, really didn't think that I would be transferred for €30m and to think that I would arrive, where people were expecting a lot from me and the fans were excited about me, and you find yourself in the reserves, play zero, zero nothing in the Europa League or the league. I was in the squad once in the League Cup.”
Sailba was originally brought to Arsenal during Unai Emery's time in charge of the club, so perhaps the fact that he’s not Arteta’s guy has played a role in Saliba being left out of the reckoning for the first team.
Arteta, though, insists he still has future plans for the young Frenchman.
“He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us, and hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and [with] his performances raising and his development progressing in the right way,” Arteta said shortly after loaning Saliba to Nice. “That is why we made that decision.
“I know that sometimes it is difficult to explain or understand after the money the club spent bringing him in, sending him on loan, but a lot of things have happened to him, he is a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well.
“Giving him three or four games is not enough for him . . . he needs to play, play and play and enjoy his profession as well."
Saliba is also focusing on his future in the game, and wondering whether there is a future for him at Arsenal.
"I don't know,” Saliba said. “I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future. So, I am focused on just these six months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest, we will see.
"I am happy now. I want to play for Nice. The idea when you're part of a team is a better feeling for me."