Arteta’s Arsenal plan for William Saliba could prove to be another act of genius by the manager

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Arsenal fans were left angry when Mikel Arteta sent William Saliba on another loan outing, this time at Marseille. The Gunners signed William Saliba from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for an astonishing fee of £27 million. The young center-back was deemed as a part of the club’s long-term future when he arrived from Saint-Etienne. However, Arteta’s reluctance to trust Saliba left many fans furious. The Frenchman was sent on-loan at Marseille at the start of the season, his third since joining the Gunners. But there may be more to this Saliba situation than meets the eye.

Mikel Arteta has turned around the club’s fortunes this season after a crashing start to the season. Arsenal now sits fourth in the table, looking to qualify for the Champions League. As a result, Arteta is gearing up for another busy summer transfer window. But per, Edu and Arteta will first discuss the role of William Saliba in the Arsenal first-team for next season. Edu reportedly wants Saliba to now remain at Arsenal, and Arteta is willing to include him in his plans too. However, this may have Arteta’s longstanding plan for the young William Saliba after all.

Arteta readying Saliba for Arsenal role

17 when he arrived, many regarded Saliba as Arsenal’s long-term solution as center back. But Saliba is yet to play a competitive game for Arsenal, rather enduring on three loan moves. While many considered it as Arteta‘s arrogance to not trust Saliba, he may have had a point as well in doing so. At a time when Arsenal’s defense was in shambles, it would have put immense pressure on Saliba to stable the ship. The expectations that Saliba would put an end to Arsenal‘s miseries at the back could have proved to be too much as well. Saliba had no prior experience of playing at a high level, or in the premier league.

The then 17-year-old defender had more probability of cracking under the pressure, rather than solving Arsenal’s problems. Arteta decided to loan him so as to gain more experience of playing at a high level. The Gunners were already in a tormenting situation, and a failed gamble on Saliba would have further denied him a fair chance.

But fast forward two-and-a-half years, Saliba has 77 appearances and counting under his belt at the top level. A regular starter at Marseille this season, Saliba is defending against the likes of Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi. The youngster even helped Marseille keep a clean sheet against the PSG attack this season in Ligue 1. If everything goes as per the plan, Arteta will be having a young center-back who has massive experience of playing at a high level in Saliba for the next season.

A well-equipped Saliba would definitely help Arteta and Arsenal in providing competition to Ben White and Gabriel. Moreover, Saliba would also add his experience of playing European football this season when he returns to Arsenal. It will be a blessing for Arsenal to have a squad depth brimming with quality and experience if they qualify for Europe next season.

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