As Arsenal took on Liverpool last night in the Carabao Cup, there was no place in the team or indeed the squad for William Saliba.
The 19 year old has yet to make his competitive debut for the club, having arrived after a disrupted year on loan with his former club Saint-Etienne. It is this disruption, among other things, that has seen Mikel Arteta take a very cautious approach about his integration.
Speaking afterwards about his absence, the Arsenal manager was sanguine, saying, “He had a year last year where Arsenal loaned him to St Etienne and that was a transition year for him.
“For many reasons, that wasn’t the transition year that he needed because he had a lot of injuries, some personal issues and also with COVID-19 and the French league getting cancelled, he didn’t have that year.
“He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to give him the best transitional year for him to have the player we want in our future.”
It remains to be seen exactly what that means. It could suggest a loan, it could mean he needs more time to settle in and more coaching before he’s considered ready.
What is clear though is that we need to remember he’s just 19, still extremely raw in the life of a centre-half, and what he does at this age won’t define who he is at Arsenal Football Club.
At the same age, new signing Gabriel was being shipped off on loan from Lille to Troyes and then Dinamo Zagreb. Few central defenders are ready for the cut and thrust of the Premier League at 19, so give the lad some time.