Sunday, December 5, 2021

Saliba: Arsenal experience difficult so far, but that’s football

William Saliba has admitted the start to his Arsenal career has been difficult for a number of reasons, but sounded a philosophical note about it after he was formally introduced by his on-loan club, Nice.

The 19 year old made his debut in midweek as his new team lost 2-0 to Brest, playing 90 minutes for the first time since March of last year (some U23 appearances for Arsenal aside).

His high profile £28m move to the Gunners raised expectations about what he might bring to the side, and the centre-half also revealed that Mikel Arteta had been up front with him from the very start.

Speaking today, Saliba said of his time in North London so far, “My first six months were difficult, because I was coming from six months where I wasn’t able to train because I was at home [because of Covid-19].

“I couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play. I arrived there as they were finishing the league season, so I was training alone.

“As soon as they came back from holidays, we quickly had the first friendly matches where I lacked rhythm and was a bit insufficient physically.

“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have a chance to rediscover my rhythm, but this is football, it’s like that.”

Arteta has been consistent on this matter, playing down expectations in July, and more than once insisting a young defender needs to be introduced carefully into the Premier League.

He sounded the same note again this week, saying, “He hasn’t played enough football in the last 18 months. At that age and the development phase that he’s in, that’s crucial.

“I’ve always been very conscious that when he came back [to London] he hadn’t done the step he needed to do before joining us.

“I want to protect the player that we signed and the future that we have alongside him.

“That’s why we made that decision. I know sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money the club has spent trying to bring him in only to send him on loan, but a lot of things have happened to him.”

Despite reports to the contrary, the plan is for him to ‘play and play’ at Nice, and return to Arsenal in the summer to compete for a place in the team.

“He will come back for pre-season and will be with us,” said Arteta. “Hopefully, he’ll come back having played a number of games and his performance is raising and his development progressing in the right way.”

Read the full William Saliba interview on GFFN

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Dan

Hope his relationship at Arsenal and with Arteta is not as bad as it looks and that he actually would like to come back and play for us/arteta in the future

The Far Post

“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have a chance to rediscover my rhythm, but this is football, it’s like that.”

This sounds pointed. If he plays well at Nice, can’t see why Arsenal wouldn’t want to bring him back and play him. And once he’s playing for us, hopefully what happened in the past no longer matters to either side.

Reality check

Even more pointed was the comment on Guendouzi’s Instagram post..

Brendan from NY

note – both Saliba and Guendo were on home isolation rules on their move to the UK. My suspicsion is that the IG comments were more about their Covid lockdowns than status in the squad. BTW Arteta is not one to tolerate sarcassm on social

SarcasmB0t

His relationship with Arteta might not be an issue for much longer.

Goldfingered

Good luck Saliba. Come back a better player and let’s hope we can repair any bridges that might have been burned.

Artetas Assistant

It’s a widely known fact that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Pau

If all goes well for Arteta at Arsenal, this will be one of his player management achievements. …if it goes a bit bad then it’ll be on the Not-to-Do list.
I’m yet to watch the boy.

Artetas Assistant

One of a few. Arteta fucking in.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Hope he doesn’t get injured for months close to his return to Arsenal.

Gloucester Gooner

Bloody hell, how much do i want to see this guy and Gabriel as our first choice centre back pairing. Holding and Mari on the bench. Incidentally was watching France vs Switzerland in the world cup the other day, France ripping them up, then i realise that Djourou and Senderos were at one point the cb pairing. Felt pretty sad. Oh and Xhaka scoring a worldie.

HenryKamp

And when he doesn’t perform at the level that’s required for the Premier League, throw him to the foxes (media and impatient fans) or under the bus and call this another failed talent.

I really hope that he gives his best without getting injured by having all that minutes and experience at a league that he already knows. Fofana at Leicester and him were mates at St Etienne. The personal issues surrounding his family might have dragged this into an issue. Wish him the very best.

SarcasmB0t

Yes, much better to turn this into a big mystery and have the fans spend half a season wondering how bad he must be if he can’t even get registered.

Great job protecting the player.

maxcat

Could part of this be that maybe kids from France tend to be outspoken with their feelings and Atreta and Edu might be having a cultural problem with this?
No Dutch players around…

Reality check

Omar Rekik is Dutch I believe

HenryKamp

Half Dutch half Tunisian. Chosen Tunisia though.

Jeremy DG

This really is a non issue. People look at the price tag and form simplistic assumptions which suit their agenda. Saliba will be an arsenal player next year, and all the richer for the experience. We literally have no idea what goes on behind the scenes

Arsenalista

Totally agree although I think we should have loaned him to a club in England.

Joe

Agree completely! And for Fofana who is doing well it’s lazy to say “he was playing with him so should be able to perform as well” because he was rated “higher” (relative cost between them would not agree with that statement). Players grow unpredictably at that age. Some look like amazing world beating talents and end up doing very little. I’m hopeful he turns out to be amazing but there has been little to suggest he’s ready to contribute for us right now.

SarcasmB0t

We’ll see how big an issue it is based on what happens next summer.

But buying a player for 30 million and not getting any value for him for two years does sound like a bit of an issue to me.

Samuels

This manager is wasting the club’s resources imo. Saliba was bought to be part of the Arsenal team in two years and this manager is shipping him out while not giving him any game

TOGooner

Saliba seems quite pissed about what happened to him as he rightly should. Arteta took 6 months away from him after not letting him play in a cup final. It may not be a stretch to say Saliba may look for a transfer this summer. It may also be very possible that they mend their relationship and move forward professionally with saliba in Arsenals first team. My only hope is that Saliba stays injury free and shows us what he’s capable of, he does seem like a hell of a talent. So best case we can get our partner to… Read more »

Pete Plum

Didn’t Artera want him to play in the cup final? Saliba was pissed off with the higher ups

Russ

Sounds like a decent young chap with his head fully screwed on.

Best of luck at Nice, look forward to seeing you with us in pre-season

InTheNorthBank

I was also disappointed not to see Saliba feature at all this season. But reading his comments here, it sounds like Arteta has been pretty straight up with him and managed his expectations well. All of this talk of burned bridges and poor man management is getting a bit hysterical now. And in the unlikely event that Saliba truly does consider bridges to be burned due to the fact that the manager hasn’t picked him over others considered to be in a fitter state, then I’m not sure he has the mentality to make it to the top of the… Read more »

Samuels

Thats what Arteta wants you to believe. If a manager really loves a player they always find a way of fitting and intergrating them in the team. He only believes in players he has bought for himself

Tampa Jack

He seems to believe in Leno, Bellerin Holding Tierney, Xhaka, El Neny, Saka, Martinelli, ESR, Auba and Laca. He Didn’t buy any of those players.

TUMANG

You have been betrayed son.

dariusz

It takes a bit longer to season defenders. Let him make mistakes and learn from them somewhere else and come back to us ready. Good luck kiddo!

Nzini

I could say the same about Arteta

onenil

He seems like a decent lad. The club has handled things badly and wasted 1/2 a year of his career. That’s not great…

The thing that is unbelievable is that cash strapped Arsenal paying £28 Million for a kid who is not close to first team football. It makes £80 Million for Maguire look like value… at least the big lummox plays for them.

Tapps

Have you seen him play though?

SarcasmB0t

Have the people who signed him?

onenil

No, but Arteta has seen enough to know he is not close.

Tapps

I was actually referring to Maguire!

Brendan from NY

Note how WS said he has been training really hard. Despite that, he was not good in the brest game (it was a tough game to watch). He had Schneiderlein in front of him, and it was awful. If that is what he shows in training, then I understand why Holding and even Mustafi are ahead of him. I love Arteta’s decisiveness here. he was honest and upfront and didnt string WS along. Great man management IMO.

Vonnie

It’s his first game since March for goodness sake, and he didn’t know any of his team mates, give him a chance!

Justno

What you fail to notice is that if Saliba played like that in the Prem, the papers would be ripping him to shreds. Most players don’t handle that all too well. No one gives a flying fk if he makes mistakes out on loan in his first couple games.

Tapps

Just watched the highlights of the Nice/Brest match. He definitely isn’t ready! Hopefully a run of games will sharpen him up. Wishing him all the best.

dariusz

Nice Brest, what a game :]

Brendan from NY

yeah, that game was awful, and he looked bad for both goals and the yellow. Way off it. He has the size and power and all the potential, but he needs to be smart, focused, and sharp

SarcasmB0t

Wait, so Arteta tells him he’s not good enough to play “immediately”, but Edu waits until the dying minutes of the window to actually complete the loan move?

Stunning incompetence.

Brendan from NY

perhaps they were waiting to see if he would improve or if Holding, Mustafi or Sokratis were moving on. There were many moving parts. Plus, as WS admits, returning to SE would have been kept him in his comfort zone whereas the loan was meant to challenge him.

SarcasmB0t

Look, either he was nowhere close to being ready, or he was close enough to play and should have played instead of Mustafi. Yes, there are many moving parts. This is a big club. If Arteta and Edu can’t handle those moving parts, clearly the job is too big for them. A decision should have been made and various possibilities should have been accounted for. And now it’s about challenging the player? I thought we were protecting him. Which is it? You also seem to have missed the part where Arsenal WANTED to loan him back to St. Etienne, but… Read more »

Brendan from NY

I watched his first game at Nice and he was poor. His passing was iffy, he could have done better on both goals. Granted it is a very bad team, but I am glad he will find his form before he returns. 100% agree with Arteta here. The fanbase was expecting WS to start and be our savior, and that was not going to happen [yet] especially not until our midfield improves. I appreciate Arteta’s decisiveness here

Francesc

Sanillehi is responsible for this mess. By saddling saliba and pepe with enormous transfer fees, he has made their life really difficult

Ric

Hope he plays and plays at Nice for that happy day when we see him in an Arsenal shirt

pooptifex

Theo Walcott didn’t play for 6 months too when he first joined, and he is playing in a position where mistakes are more “tolerated”, versus Saliba who is a centre back, where mistakes can quickly kill your confidence. Takes time to bed them in too, covid didn’t help the process likely.

2highbury

This loan sort of make sense but isn’t the reasoning a bit circular here?

He lacks rhythm and fitness from lack of game time so he can’t get game time, thereby limiting his ability to play etc

It’ll be great if he does well at nice but there’s also a chance that his separation from the squad could be too protracted

Also Covid means who knows what’s going to happen to international travel in 6 months time?

Kostas

On a positive note the lad obviously has all the physical attributes to fly high.
It is true that he may have missed a year of playing and learning the tactical side of it But…
He went through a tough process and this will only forge him as a person.

Personally I believe that players at this level all have immense quality football wise. The rare thing is exceptional characters that have the determination to love as professionals all their peak years.

The boy will grow stronger now

TheArsenal

His comments worry me a bit. He sounds super confident about his abilities to the extent that he was surprised the coach would say he wasn’t ready – trying instead to explain it away as lack of match fitness. He would be wise to take his loan seriously and not assume he is already good because he isn’t. There is a long way to go based on the games I have seen him play. For example, he takes a lot of risks in his game, holds the ball longer than needed sometimes and could be stronger.

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