William Saliba proves to Mikel Arteta why Arsenal must turn down AC Milan's transfer approach
Arsenal are set to receive approaches for William Saliba in the summer due to the uncertainty of the Frenchman’s status with the club. And the latest interest in him seems to be coming from the Serie A.
According to the Daily Mirror, AC Milan wants to sign Saliba in the summer after he impressed on loan at Marseille in Ligue 1. According to French news outlet RMC Sport, Investcorp are looking to conclude their deal to buy AC Milan. If a deal goes through, then the Rossoneri will have around £250m to spend on new players, with Saliba reportedly of interest.
However, Mikel Arteta must ensure that the Frenchman remains at the club beyond the next summer transfer window. Not only does the club have shortages in the centre of defence, but Saliba has proven himself to be one of Europe’s most promising defenders this season.
During his loan spell at Marseille in this campaign, according to Opta, Saliba has had more touches than any other player, and he has made the most attempted and successful passes. He also has the highest carry progress in France's top division.
Arteta will be extremely pleased with these statistics as the Spaniard expects more from his centre-backs than just being able to defend. Ben White is constantly seen being the player to create attacks, or to carry the ball into midfield which creates space for the rest of the team.
At Marseille, Saliba has shown the maturity required to be a regular Premier League centre-back, playing more minutes than any other player aged 20 and under in Europe's top five leagues. The French defender has proven to be crucial for Jorge Sampaoli’s side and has started every Ligue 1 match since joining the club.
Speaking about his loan move away from Arsenal in a recent interview with French outlet L’equipe, Saliba said: "They are often in contact with my agent. They send me messages. They watch my matches. They tell me to continue like this. I haven't played much with the Gunners. The coach [Mikel Arteta] made his choices, that's life. I left on loan, I played matches and, thanks to my performances, I became a [senior] international.
"I'm sure I can't just be on the bench at Arsenal and be happy. I want to play as a starter. Afterwards, if I come into the rotation as a substitute, it's not like staying with the Under-23s and never being in the squad."
These comments come as a major boost to Arsenal fans, and to Arteta as it was unclear whether Saliba wanted to stay in north London. However, these comments highlight the strong mentality of the Frenchman that he is ready to stay and fight for a place at Arsenal even if he is not in the starting line-up.
Arteta must give him the reassurance that he will be given the opportunities in order to keep interest from clubs such as AC Milan a far distance away. Saliba will certainly be a dominant defender in the future, and the Gunners must make sure he showcases this ability in a red and white shirt.