Mikel Arteta's comments on William Saliba speak volumes as he shows him what he's missing

By Chris Doyle

Arsenal's decision to send William Saliba out on loan continues to be a mystery as he excels for Marseille.

The French defender has been somewhat of an enigma since arriving at the Emirates as he has yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners despite costing them £30million back in 2019.

Saliba had a loan spell at Saint-Etienne before sealing another short term move to the south of France this summer.

It seemed a puzzling decision at the time as Arsenal entered a rebuild investing in their young core moving forward.

But Saliba was not a part of that equation as the Gunners would later shell out £50million on Ben White, as well as signing versatile defender Takehiro Tomiyasu for £20m from Bologna.

William Saliba joined Marseille on a season-long loan (Getty)

Was it the wrong decision to send William Saliba out on loan to Marseille? Comment below

And it's a call that has turned out to be even more confusing as Saliba impresses for Marseille in the early stages of the season, not to mention that the 20-year-old's ability with the ball at the feet is exactly the type of player he is looking for as he moves towards a system where his defenders play out from the back.

Of his 253 passes so far, 96% have found their target. 100% accuracy for all 32 passes into the final third. Two passes into the box have also found their mark. Saliba is excelling in his distribution and is moving the ball forward too.

OM fans have been singing his praises and reckon he has been the best defender at the club so far this term.

Ben Senouillet from podcast The Marseille View spoke to The Gooner Talk about Saliba’s start to life under Jorge Sampaoli, saying: “Saliba, I think I can honestly say he’s been our best defender. He’s been solid, he’s quick.”

And he also questioned Arsenal's decision to send him out on loan when he was 'ready-made' to play for Arteta's side.

He added: “Well, if he’s capable? Yes, why have you gone out and splashed the cash on players that aren’t necessarily complimentary, or that you need to mold into this process or this Arsenal system you’re trying to implement when seemingly you have a ready-made player here?”

William Saliba has yet to make a senior appearance for Arsenal (Getty Images)

Arteta insists that Saliba is a part of the club's long-term plans, but it's never a good sign when a £30m player doesn't kick a ball for your side in two whole years.

The centre-half was assessed in pre-season before a decision was made on his future which begs the question - Why didn't Arsenal see the version of Saliba that is currently on display at Marseille?

Arteta said: "He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us. Hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and his performance raising and his development progressing in the right way. That’s why we made that decision.

"I know that sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money that the club has spent trying to bring him in, to send him on loan.

"But a lot of things have happened to him he’s a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well. And giving him three or four games is not enough.

"For him, he needs much more than that, because what happened in the last 18 months, he’s been through some personal problems as well that we have to try to help him and stay as close as possible to him.

"And now he needs to play, play and play and enjoy his profession as well. And in order to do that I think we found the right club with him.

"He’s very happy to go there now. Hopefully he can enjoy his football and be ready for us for next season."


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