‘I was 100% convinced that he would play at Arsenal but not at that moment’ – Mikel Arteta reveals reason for shipping William Saliba out on loan

Given his current prominence at Arsenal, it is difficult to imagine that there were once questions surrounding William Saliba’s (23) capacity to make it at the Premier League club. However, after successive loan spells back in his native France, those doubts did exist. In a lengthy interview with France Football, Mikel Arteta has explained his decision to send Saliba out on loan. 

Following his €30m move to Arsenal, Saliba was sent straight back on loan to formative club Saint-Étienne. Whilst on loan there, Arteta arrived as manager at Arsenal. In the summer of 2020, the decision was made to keep Saliba at the Emirates, however, he could not make the breakthrough into the first team. 

“When he arrived at the club after his first loan, we wanted to look at him. Our evaluation led us to two conclusions: firstly, he wasn’t ready to play in the Premier League in the role that we thought he could have and most importantly, the environment wasn’t good enough for him to develop, for him to become what we imagined and for him to reach the potential he had,” began Arteta. 

Saliba was subsequently shipped off to OGC Nice in January, following that evaluation, before then going back out on loan to Olympique de Marseille. It was this latter loan spell that proved the springboard to Arsenal and for Arteta, there were never any doubts that that would eventually happen. 

“I was 100% convinced that he would play at Arsenal but not at that moment in time,” he told France Football. “I told him that I would not put him in because he wasn’t ready so he had to prove himself elsewhere. He was incredible and consistent and he succeded in managing other problems. He came back and after one or two training sessions, in a new environment, we knew that, from now on, he could do it. Since, he has proved that brilliantly. His progression and his consistency are incredible. We are very happy to have him here.”

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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