Mikel Arteta has admitted he has regrets over the fact William Saliba’s loan move didn’t happen at the start of this season, but believes the January move was necessary for the then 19 year old to get regular playing time.

The centre-half has been more or less ever-present for Nice since joining them at the beginning of the year, making 19 appearances in Ligue 1 as well as featuring in two cup ties.

Asked if he, among all the players Arsenal have out loan, needed the temporary move, the Arsenal boss said, “Yes. I would have liked for it to have happened at the start of the season.

“We had eight central defenders, which is unheard of, but we didn’t find the right moment, the right club, the right agreement to do that and in my opinion, we could have used those four or five months in a better way.

“We tried to maximise it when we decided to keep him here until December and now he’s had a run of games that he needed after the difficult year that he had in the previous season.”

In spite of Covid restrictions making it difficult to attend games, Arteta made it clear the club were keeping close tabs on the £28m signing, with loan manager Ben Knapper providing reports and feedback.

“Ben Knapper is always in contact with him.” he said.

“He’s the one creating every assessment. We are as a coaching staff, obviously following his progression, watching his games and in contact with him.

“It’s not an ideal world to feel that you still belong here and you can have a face-to-face relationship, but we try to do it in the best possible way.”

As for his role next season, and Saliba’s potential to replace the departing David Luiz, Arteta said decisions would be made after the season when he, Edu and his coaching staff, make a full assessment of the squad.

“When we finish the season, we will sit down,” said the Spaniard. “We’re still competing.

“We will sit down and discuss the roles of every member of the squad and how they can fulfil that role and he’s our player so he’ll be back here for sure.

“After that, we will make a decision based on the agreement of the role that each player is going to have in the squad.”

Arteta earlier paid tribute to Luiz, whose time at the club will come to and end after Sunday’s final league game of the season against Brighton.

“When you get to know the person, his background, where he was raised in Brazil, what he’s done to get to this point, it’s remarkable,” he said.

“Then you understand a lot of these things have happened for a reason. It’s not just an ability, a quality or determination, it’s many other factors. I’ve really enjoyed learning from him.

“He’s been very helpful every time with the team, and I feel sadness as well because you get attached to the players emotionally. First it’s the player that we have to get the maximum out of, and then it’s the person.

“When it gets to these stages, it’s tough and it hurts because that relationship is now going to be going away at least in this space of not seeing him every day.

“Again, I have to say thank you to him.”

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Perry

Would be nice for Arteta to give some praise to Saliba rather than just gushing over David Luiz. One is gone, one is potentially the future of our defence. He really seems to be reticent to talk up young players, but loves to do it the older ones!

ASH

Arteta loves Matinelli, and plays him only in dead rubbers. He loves Saliba so much that Saliba was not even registered as an Arsenal player.
Amazing way of showing his love.

goonerrah

Arteta, just like his daddy Pep, tries to play a very complex system and Arteta trusts older players to be able to execute it better. Funny how thats blown up in his face. He spends all game yelling instructions and the youth players bail him out with talent

karl

That complex game relies on having the best players and we fall a little short there. You have to wonder about a system when it won’t maximise players performance unless they are good enough to win anyway.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Here’s the part that worries me. This season when we needed a goal to draw or perhaps trying to win a game, it usually came from the individual effort of Saka or ESR, not from team play. That isn’t sustainable and is not a plan.

Okester

Yes. A bit worrying. Saliba is a player he should be bringing back into the fold next season, but he didn’t make himself sound to enthused by it at all. He’s a player I’d be excited to see in our team at the start of next season.

Public Elneny

Yeah that and several reports that RCB is a priority position to strengthen this summer, when we already have Holding, Saliba and Chambers, makes me worry that Arteta and Edu just don’t get it. It’s one of the strongest areas of the squad, featuring a youngster who has the all the raw ingredients to be legit world class. And we’re getting linked to CBs from Fulham

Johnny 4 Hats

I find this bizarre. How much would a “he’s an astonishing young player who we are lucky to have and I am really looking forward to coaching him” help this strange situation? I think Arteta doesn’t like to admit he got it wrong with his immediate disregard of Saliba. So he’s trying to save face. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Willy hands in a transfer request before he’s played a single game. And to be honest, his stock has only gone up and we might make £10m without him ever playing for us. That would be some sort of… Read more »

Daveo

On this one, Arteta needs to own it. If he doesn’t it’s going to be really hard to salvage Saliba’s relationship with Arsenal. Saliba has been super impressive in France and he needs to play. Arteta needs to make that happen from the start in pre-season and cups and hopefully by late 2021 he’s pushing Holding for the starting gig. If he comes back unsettled because Arteta won’t swallow his pride, it’s hard to see Saliba having a future at the club and a massive talent and investment would be wasted.

Atom

For Arteta to succeed as a manager it’s going to take an incredible amount of humility & self reflection – 2 things which are difficult for most people. Simply doing more of what he did this year is not going to work.

Johnny 4 Hats

I still think of Saliba and Gabriel as CB partners and get a little moist. They feel like a really good pairing. Gab is a quick, aggressive defender who is very proactive and Saliba is tall and strong and calm on the ball.

If Arteta doesn’t make this a thing then I’m going to have to blow a raspberry at him from the upper tier when I’m allowed back in the Emirates. That’ll show him.

Pescetarian
goonshow

I’m not fully informed on the early stages of the Saliba mess-up, other than somehow Arsenal admin cocked up lodging his paperwork for his loan.
Can anyone fill in the gaps on exactly what Arteta said or did or didn’t do, what responsibility Edu carries in this, and why there seems to be a narrative that Arteta doesn’t/didn’t like him or rate him?
Would be helpful to understand the bigger picture

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Arteta watched him in training and two cameo appearances and decided after two weeks that he wasn’t good enough for first team, according to Saliba. Saliba wasn’t in top form coming off an injury and felt manager didn’t give him a fair chance to show his qualities. This episode is part of a larger narrative around the manager that he doesn’t trust younger players. He didn’t play ESR or Martinelli until he was forced to do so in the Chelsea game and the team responded to their energy and technical ability. Citeh brought Foden along ever so slowly giving him… Read more »

Mpls

That narrative is just a bunch of people guessing. Obviously he had a role in deciding if he thought he was ready or not, but that’s got nothing to do with whether or not he ‘rates’ him. Yes, they really fucked up the loan deal, and they also really fucked up not letting Saliba play the final with Etienne that he wanted so much to finish his time there with. BUT there is also a bit of ‘grass is greener’ going on with people assuming Saliba was ready out of the gate to slot right into our squad as a… Read more »

MrBure

The simple fact is: if Saliba wasn’t out the door by October 5th, he wasn’t going anywhere and was therefore available to be registered for UEFA competition on October 6th, and domestic English competition by October 20th.

Not including him in either squad was a deliberate decision by Arteta, and cost Saliba half a season of development. And then Arteta has the gall, the bold-faced cheek to lie about it.

If you were in Saliba’s shoes, why the hell would you want to play for Arteta ever again?

Mpls

What exactly was Arteta’s lie?

MrBure

The lie, which we have heard over and over again, is that Saliba wasn’t registered to play for us this season because he was supposed to go out on loan. It is so easily disproved that it strains credulity that of all available options, this is the one they chose. The lie assumes that we are all stupid and have no idea how the transfer and squad registration windows work. It’s not just us,either – it’s the admin staff at the club he’s constantly nudging under the bus. Plus, he’s constantly talking about how we had 8 central defenders, he… Read more »

Mpls

I still just see here, and maintain, it’s all a bunch of suppositions by folks that don’t know – meaning us. Even if we knew at the beginning of the were cutting Papa and Mustafi, it still left us 6 cb’s. Maybe, just maybe, with all of the complications going on he just wasn’t performing in training (what they were able to have of it) and u23’s to a level yet that convinced Arteta. By the time he went to Nice he had a few months to work through some things. The situation on the inside vs the outside could… Read more »

Tanned arse

It’s worse than that. Saliba didn’t require registering for any domestic competition as his age automatically meant he was eligible to play in every domestic league and cup game. Having not loaned him out they then denied him any game time and opportunity to prove himself even in the league cup. I’m cynical when it comes to things like that and read it as arteta not wanting to be proved wrong. It was the first big sign for me and there’s been so many examples of that small man mentality since. These latest comments regarding Saliba again are puzzling if… Read more »

Fabregooner

This interpretation has the ring of truth about it. Which is really worrying and I hope is proved wrong. But the bottom line is there are only two options that make commercial sense, otherwise we’re going to lose a huge amount of money – play him a lot so he’s happy, or sell him now (which would frankly be embarrassing since everyone apart from Arteta can see this kid is class)

Awesomesauce25

Exactly Mpls… people connecting the dots on their own with no inside info. Arteta had 8 CBs when he arrived. A shortened summer to decide on and prepare his team for the season, and Saliba coming off of an injury and some personal traumas. He was expected to have more time under his belt on loan to have more experience which he didn’t get due to Covid stoppage of play. The fact that he choose players he has more knowledge and experience with to round out a roster when he had to cut back some numbers is totally understandable. The… Read more »

Old but Gold

What a complete load of tosh. You obviously never listen to him.

SB Still

Most people seem to have seen through Arteta’s spin.

I hope he was honest with Saliba and will offer him a chance next season.

Tomaury Bischfeld

The poor guy has got to be used to handling cock ups that affect his career by now.

Jack

For those questioning Saliba’s aerial ability, just remember Rob Holding got dunked by Sterling earlier this season

gus

holding is a poor championship player eg carl jenkinson

Public Elneny

Absolute rubbish, he’s started in every one of our clean sheets this season. His performance ceiling isn’t especially high, but he puts in very few poor games – which is probably the most important thing for CBs and GKs

They’re rarely the main factor in winning you a game, but they easily and very commonly throw them away single handed

Much rather Holding and Mari putting in 7/10 performances almost every game than Luiz swinging wildly between a 5 and a 9

Canadagoon

Not like he’s bossed an FA Cup final or anything…

Tanned arse

Not in a back 4 he hasn’t

Viv The 🐐

Didn’t some Hull CB boss us for 75 Minutes in a Cup Final? or some Wigan CBs against City?

The Beast

Genuine question – what do you base that on?

Even if I didn’t take your opinion with the pinch of salt it was probably meant to come with, from what I’ve seen of Rob Holding, we’ve can’t be talking about the same guy if you think he’s a poor championship player at best.

Salibaba and the Forty Thieves

Come on my guy. This isn’t a YouTube comment section.

Holding is a decent player. With limitations yes but not down to the level of Jenkinson.

Like Jack, I question his heading sometimes but then even Messi has won some aerial duals in his career.

Tanned arse

I watched plenty of mavropanos this season and whilst they’re similar in terms of ball playing qualities, he’s far quicker stronger and more aggressive than holding and his all-round defensive awareness is better. Point being, I’d put both saliba and dinos ahead of holding without a second thought

Torterrier

Saliba needs to cosy up to Arteta and become his close friend to be able to play for Arsenal it seems.

filsuf

you just gotta stroke his hair, i mean ego, a bit.

SarcasmB0t

The loan fiasco was an inexcusable fuck-up. So if I understand it correctly, the real issue was that we had eight center backs and Saliba couldn’t be squeezed in. If that’s the case, why did Arteta add two more CBs and extend another? What’s with the reported contract offer? Remember, Mustafi and Sokratis left in January, so it’s not like they couldn’t have been given away. The real issue was the glacial pace of decision-making by Arteta and Edu and a lack of a clear strategy. Whether Saliba goes on loan should NOT have been a last minute decision. Ideally,… Read more »

Frank Bascombe

Play a lot of FIFA then?

SarcasmB0t

Not really.

Have anything intelligent to say?

Kostas

Or maybe it’s too much on just two people? Remember Raul was fired mid summer. Who is responsible for promoting Arteta and spreading him so thin?

SarcasmB0t

I do remember when Raul was fired. I also remember that Edu was already here. But Edu isn’t exactly a man off the street, is he? I don’t really know very much about football or the corporate world, but even I know you don’t make these kinds of decisions at the last moment. Remember what happened when Arsene decided to sell Sanchez to Man City in the last few days of the transfer deadline and buy Lemar with the money? Nothing, because we ran out of time. Unless Edu is utterly incompetent, he must have known better and should have… Read more »

goonshow

100% mate – the key word is Director of Football. And the one thing lacking on Saliba’s loan was ‘direction’ !

Tanned arse

I feel this is already (even in the infancy of his managerial career) classic arteta mis-direction. The discussion is on not loaning saliba out quick enough (which essentially is not on arteta). The real question should be why it was deemed after 2 weeks pre season he wasn’t going to be a part of the plans. He didn’t need to be at the top level. None of our defenders are. Yet he’s the one we invested in. He’s the one with the greatest potential. He’s the one we needed to show we value. And if arteta is a good coach,… Read more »

Awesomesauce25

He was a CB under the age of 20. His only experience has been in France which is well below the level of the PL. Another year on loan when your previous loan got cut short… where you can get a starting spot day in and day out to continue to develop away from the pressure and spotlight of the PL and our demanding fans is surely not a bad decision. The fact that our other CBs are not world beaters does not mean we should have thrown all our hopes and expectations on a kid with hardly any experience.… Read more »

Santi’s Thigh Grab

This is a good take, gets the thigh grab of approval.

Canadagoon

If I recall correctly we couldn’t give Mustafi or Sokratis away, no one wanted them and they didn’t want to leave last summer

SarcasmB0t

Seeing as they did want to leave in January and we did, in fact, give them away, it seems to me that more should have been done in the summer to explain to them how untenable their position at the club is. It was apparently only made known to Ozil and Sokratis that they wouldn’t be registered towards the end of the window, when it should have been the opening gambit – you leave, or you don’t play. At all. It still fucks with my brain that Mustafi was registered ahead of Saliba. Again, more pressure should have been applied… Read more »

Here’s what makes our backroom antics even more stupid. As a 19 year old and U21, Saliba didn’t need formal registration as a senior player. He still could have played in the domestic competitions. The only competition that Saliba couldn’t play in was the Europa League.

https://www.premierleague.com/news/1869523

Check out this link. You’ll see Martinelli, Saka and co were not registered as senior players.

Awesomesauce25

What information do you have that says Arteta did not make a decision? Why is the fact that loan registration papers were not completed on time his decision? I honestly have not seen any facts that suggest this. I agree 100% that the loan fiasco was an inexcusable fuck-up by Arsenal AND St Etienne, however, I just haven’t seen any actual information on how this was Arteta’s fault.

David C

Admitting your mistakes is the first step I guess.

Build the D around Saliba and Gabriel. Project Youth part 2.

filsuf

in wenger days, we brought in 17, 16 year olds and blooded them in to our starting eleven. nowadays even 22 year olds are considered youths and taking baby steps.

goonshow

Other than Cesc… who do you mean? Theo was almost 20, as was Hector.

ChickPEA

That’s quite biased. Smith Rowe is a regular at 20, and Saka almost was at 18.

On the other hand, Wenger most certainly overplayed Wilshere at the time, until an injury cost him his career.

Taking some time to blood an injury-prone youngster like Martinelli seems like a sensible strategy to me.

SB Still

For every ‘taking it cautiously’ argument, there is the ‘over played’ Saka and Tierney as well. The former doesn’t stack up because of the later.

DB’s first touch

There is also a big difference between what is considered young for an attacker and a CB, so Saliba cannot be compared to cesc, jack, saka and ESR

Homer

Yeah, and the boo boys and aftv knuckleheads hounded out AW.

But, hey ho, who cares about facts.

The Beast

What 16-17 year old CB did Wenger blood into the starting 11?

That’s not a criticism of Wenger btw, as I would struggle to think of many teenage central defenders in the league back then & now

Steve Dracula

A combined 100 million on Pepe and Saliba.

The Kroenke´s don´t spend and ´Don Raul won the transfer window´.

Biggles

It proves, if anything, that it’s not what you spend it’s how you spend it (and who is advising you how to spend it, as well).

MrBure

How the gathered press continue to let Arteta get away with the lie that failing to register Saliba to play last summer was down to a failure to complete his loan paperwork on time is utterly baffling to me. For the avoidance of doubt, the international transfer deadline day was 5th October, 2020. Therefore, any player not loaned or sold abroad by that date was available to be registered for the squad. Following this date, the EPL kept an additional domestic transfer window open until October 16 for deals between domestic clubs only. Again, any player not loaned or sold… Read more »

Alex

Get to France

Biggles

I think we’ve still got six CBs so someone will probably have to go in the summer. It will be interesting to see how Saliba does for us – assuming we do see, of course . All that money spent and so little to show for it (so far).

Fabregooner

If you regard Chambers as a right back, which he seems to be making a good fist of, then we only have 3 not on loan now: Holding, Mari and Gabriel. Who will all stay. So even without Europe, there is space for one more CB. That should be Saliba, which would give us a nice balance of two left footers and two right footers. We need to sell Mavropanos or at least loan him again. Or integrate him and sell Saliba which would be … nuts.

Paul

Damn, I need to slow down my brain.

I read the scout manager’s name as Ben K(id)napper

Cd78

Reading this doesn’t fill me with confidence that Saliba will be part of the 1st team squad next season.

Gabigol

One provably backed him in the dressing room. The other we don’t know why he was shut out but Mikel did say he was going to find the leak from the dressing room. But that was likely Ozil and his crew.

Not sure Mikel could not say something nice about Luiz considering how popular he was with the squad

Gabigol

Saliba must be worth 40m now even in this market. Will he get sold?

Yaqub Mahmood

I really hate the way we’re treating this kid. He’s supposed to be the future if the fucking club, we’re treating him like he’s some scrub