Saturday, July 13, 2024

Arteta: Edu went to watch Saliba

Mikel Arteta has revealed that Technical Director Edu and Loan Manager Ben Knapper were both in the stands at the Stade Velodrome last Sunday as William Saliba produced an impressive display in Marseille’s 0-0 draw with Paris Saint Germain.

Challenged to pit his wits against attacking trio Neymar, Leo Messi and Kylian Mbappe, the Arsenal loanee delivered a clean sheet, in no small part thanks to an incredible last-ditch tackle to deny the latter a run through on goal with seven minutes remaining.

Asked whether he’d seen the performance and been in touch with the defender, Arteta said: “Yes, I did. As a club we’re always in touch. They went to see that game as well. Edu and Ben [Knapper] were there to watch him and to keep a close eye on him and the progress that he’s making.

“Obviously, he’s our player. We do that with all the loan players that we have.”

In the summer, instead of incorporating Saliba into the first team squad, the club chose to spend £50 million on Ben White and sanctioned a third loan in his homeland for the 20-year-old. Naturally, many have asked why a player who consistently performs well in Ligue 1 hasn’t yet had a chance to shine for his parent club.

“Everything is linked,” said Arteta. “Obviously the amount of centre-backs we could have in the team, the issues that we had in the past, the numbers we had and the imbalance we had in the position.

“And because of William’s decision in his career right now to make the minutes that he’s making and the progress that he’s making. We believe it was the right thing to do.”

A hypothetical situation was also put to the boss. If Saliba were at Arsenal this season, would he be a first team regular or more likely to have featured when the second string had a run out against Leeds in the Carabao Cup.

“If…but at the moment he’s there [in Marseille] and he played a different game that week,” replied Arteta. “He continues to do what he needs to do which is play a lot of games and play well.”

He also wouldn’t be drawn on what will happen in the future. “That’s a decision we’ll make in the summer. Naturally, that will happen, we’ll have to sit down and decide what is the best next step.”

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Strange comments, seems like he doesn’t want him next season


I think they decided that in the summer, it’s hard seeing a way back now. Sending a guy on loan (for third season) that will have 2 years left on his desk when he returns and signing a 50M quid CB in his position. 2 years left is the time to resign a player. Why would saliba resign? Thus we’d have 1 year to salvage things where he’d have to play…how can he do that With white ahead of him?
This has been handled terribly the whole way through.

A Different George

First, you’re forgetting his age. He is miles ahead of a typical centre half in his career. Second, he might re-sign for Arsenal because he would be paid much more than Marseille, or any club in France other than PSG, would pay him.


The way he is playing there will be better clubs than Marseille interested in him, and I highly doubt the exact $$$ amount of our offer will be the determining factor. He needs to play. There is no clear path for him to minutes at Arsenal, or are we going to drop White? If we move to a back 3 just to fit in our three best CB we lose the balance we are developing with the current system. “might”…sure, pigs “might” fly too. Pigs flying might be less likely, but I don’t think all that much. The avenue to… Read more »

A Different George

Everything I hear about Saliba sounds promising. But I have never actually seen him play a whole match. I do know he is very young, especially for a centre half and that, historically (as Wenger said), young centre halves cost you points. Saliba may be an exception, but I don’t have much reason to believe that. I think (but don’t know) that if he were at Arsenal, he would mostly sit on the bench, so a loan probably makes more sense. All the rest is not analysis based on one’s own knowledge or what you’ve seen, it’s Football Manager and… Read more »


Agreed. And speaking of watching him closely, does anybody, anywhere, acknowledge that Saliba does not actually get the ball in the last-ditch Mbappe tackle? He’s awfully close, and he played brilliantly that game, but were he in an Arsenal shirt that surely would have been a sending off … they would have found the angle in a heartbeat.


Guess he rode his luck like White did with his back pass to Ramsdale. Young centre backS making the odd error. Because we all know old centre halves are infallible.


White is a young centre half. You’re appling an argument to one young centre half only.

A Different George

White is 24; Saliba is 20.

Franz Biberkopf

I’ve got a sick feeling that when Saliba becomes the best centre half in Europe, he won’t be playing for Arsenal.


Why sick? If he’s not going to be playing for us, you can bet we’ll get a handsome fee for him. We’re in a win-win situation. Nothing to grimace about here. He’s playing excellent football right now, and the loan move was the right one based on that evidence alone, but also because it seems that White has proven to be an especially good fit with Arteta and the team this year. The furor around Saliba is a bit silly; yes, he’s really good, playing really good football, but like people comparing ESR to Ronaldo, the hyperbole is humorous. I… Read more »


“Nothing precludes Saliba donning the shirt and being a force for the Arsenal next season, and years to come.” The two first choice CBs currently in the team likely preclude him from donning the shirt somewhat wouldn’t you say? Do you see him signing a new contract is he’s not starting regularly, and essentially that would have to be promised, for him to want to be at Arsenal next season. So, let’s look at this less binarily. Based on the existing factors, what probability do you give it that Saliba has a long-term future at Arsenal. My estimation is about… Read more »


If he doesn’t want to compete for a spot, and support his teammates who might play ahead of him, then I imagine he has no future at a club like Arsenal. But if he wants to play for us, and if he’s down with earning his place, then having two CBs ahead of him in the pecking order does not preclude a bright future for him with the Arsenal, no. Considering that Saliba is under contract with us until June 2024, I’d say that the probability of a long-term future with us is more in the 60-70% range if his… Read more »


At least you admit we midhandled things (sort of). Because we absolutely did and Mikel is largely responsible for that (the major error was the Europa squad – a terrible decision). I’ve been very positive towards some of the changes he’s implemented over the last couple months, but mistakes still happened. 60-70% I’d say is a tad optimistico, but that is your MO so fair play.


If we’re in Europe next season, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to play. We’ll need two quality right footed center backs. Also think that if he’s really pulling up trees, White can play the Tomi role.


He could be a great. Tall, fast and skilful.
Will be tricky given the strength of Gabriel and White but would love him to come back and sign up with us for a long time.


If nothing else, his value won’t be diminishing. With a decent contract and a strong season behind him we’d at least get our money back if we did move him on.

Not that I think we should, but at least it gives us a measure of security.

Public Elneny

There’s no way we should think about selling him. And certainly not for the amount we paid for him Saliba has best CB in the world kind of potential. Not saying he will be but he has every raw attribute you could want, and is already bloody good. IMO he is on another level of talent to players like Gnabry, Martinez, Malen, Bennacer etc who we let go before given a chance to establish themselves. We regret those sales but I worry Saliba will be a much bigger regret Even if Gabriel, White, Holding, Chambers, Tomiyasu, Mari are all still… Read more »


It’s simple, if he comes back, he has to play. That’s the only way William Saliba has an Arsenal career.


Indeed – we’d have to move one of Chambers or Holding on, surely. We’ll hopefully be in a place to play European football next season, so there should be more players involved week-to-week.

That said, I don’t see Saliba walking in and displacing White or Gabriel the way Ramsdale has done to Leno — unless there are some serious injuries, which is quite possible. We’ll just have to wait and see.


Say he comes back and has a great season. He then has 1 year left or 6 months till he can speak to non English clubs. How do we persuade him to stay or do we just cash out?


White as a RB has to be considered. He’s very technical, he’s quick, he’s a better passer of the ball of all our defenders and can carry the ball forward quite well.

Considering he’s not as tall as the other centre backs (Gabriel and Saliba) we could try him there when Saliba returns. It will be great to have them all at once.

Uba Ng

I would rather we considered White as a DM in partnership with Partey.
He has all the attributes to interpret that role.

Arunava Maulik

He still doesnt acknowledge the 9/10 performances that Saliba puts in week in week out! I really hope he has future here at Arsenal


“He continues to do what he needs to do which is play a lot of games and play well.”

What do you want him to say, that he “performs at a 9/10 level every week?”

Man Manny

That would mean accepting that he made a mistake. Few managers do that.


Looks like Saliba is making excellent progress on loan. Much better for him and Arsenal than sitting on the bench.

Looking forward to next season when hopefully we have European football back and enough football to feed 3 top quality CBs!

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

This one won’t be going away for now.
Will the £50m English player remain a regular, next season onwards. Or will the younger French kid with a higher potential become first choice?

I hope Saliba signs an extension and gets his chance within the next 2 seasons.


Play Saliba in White’s right-sided centre half position and move Ben White into the Xhaka role alongside Partey. That leaves Chambers and Holding as cover for centre half. Xhaka can be backup in midfield.


Then sell Mari and Elneny.


I think Elneny is pencilled in for a move to Besiktas in January is he not?

Bai Blagoi

How does “Everything is linked” fit with “That’s a decision we’ll make in the summer.”?


I haven’t read the comments in context, but my interpretation: comments re “everything is linked” concern the decision to send Saliba out on loan (there were a lot of factors). What happens in the summer refers to a decision that needs to be made in the future. Personally I feel the rhetoric needs to cool down a bit on this one – the kid is obviously a very talented footballer, just let him play and we will see where things stand when the time comes.


Everything is linked to how poorly edu and mikel handled this situation. The inevitable decision on selling him will be made in the summer.


His first season he never had a proper pre season and then last season his mother passed away so the decision was to allow him back to France to be closer to his family. I assume this season was to consolidate game time in a familiar league at a better club. I think he’s progressing well by all accounts and a top team will have more than 2 top quality centre halfs. I very much doubt we’d sell him


Then we risk losing big value or even him walking for free. I would be shocked if he signed a new contract, and that is the only avenue I see to him having an arsenal career. How does he get the needed game time with white and Gabriel? So why would he sign. He had zero connection to arsenal, except that time when arteta say him on the bench for 6 months and refused to register him in squads, instead picking mustafi and an injured mari.

Alan Sunderland

Maybe going to a back 3 would be the way into the team, would suit White as well. Can’t help but think there’s something wrong between him and arteta. Sending him on loan again this season didn’t seem to make any sense if they thought he had a future at arsenal.


The big picture is that Arteta is a terrible man manager. He goes to extremes to prove he is in charge and treats people badly on a whim, just to set some unnecessary example. Look at Ozil, Guendouzi, Sokratis, Leno, Bellerin, Saliba, Martinelli, Balogun. I mean his favorite player is Xhaka ffs.

Not to mention the annoying micromanagement from the touchline and his permanent frown. Is this guy even enjoying management?

The Beast

I don’t think it’s particularly contraversal to say that, at the moment, we have better players in the positions that Ozil, Guendouzi, Sokratis, Leno, Bellerin, Martinelli and Balogun play/played in. So are you saying he’s a terrible manager for moving older players on and benching younger players that are still developing to make way for players that are producing now? Strange take on management to say the least. As for Saliba, again I don’t think it’s particulary controversal to say that our current defence is probably the best thing about our first team squad. Why fuck with that just to… Read more »


“benching younger players that are still developing” Well MA is there since 2 years, can you name a single young player that has developed under his management? Forget Saka and ESR, MA has got absolutelly nothing to do with their quality. Can you, for that sake, name a single other player of Arsenal that Artetas man or game management improved or made look better. For all I saw in this past 2 years, give him enough time and Arteta will make every single player look shit disregarding how tallented he is. He arived with reputation of great coach for developing… Read more »


Feels like a backward step as we might finally be finding a balance


With the small sample size that I have Saliba will be better than White.


Saliba has been treated and managed poorly by Arteta. Yet, he sticks by his decision to oust him from the club and is yet to clearly say he will be part of the team next year. Funny thing is, Saliba seems likely to outstay Arteta.


One thing to note is that Saliba plays in a back 3. That makes it easier than a back 4. Also, the intensity of Ligue 1 is not comparable with PL. All in all if a club decides to send a player on loan it generally means that he is not considered ready enough. From there if he gets solid playing time that generally helps the player become ready for the parent club. So, if Arsenal are managing well without Saliba this season and if Saliba is gaining invaluable experience playing every week it is a good thing for Arsenal.… Read more »


“A really don’t get the point that Arteta has something against Saliba and therefore Saliba is rejected.”

The issue is Arteta didn’t give Saliba a single chance to prove himself when he (Arteta) had the chance to do so, to the contrary he left him off the Europa squad in which he could have picked up 6 incredibly valuable games in the least, which may have lead to more opportunities and exposure. That sits squarely on Mikel.


I would undertand this sentiment more if Saliba was not playing very well, or even regularly, and if Arsenal were in dire need of someone to do Gabriel/White’s job. As it stands, neither of those things came to fruition. So it seems to me that things have worked out rather nicely so far? Storm in a teacup stuff


This guy is obviously world class! I watch football with my mates and they say the same. Granted, I haven’t seen him in training week-in, and week-out. We didn’t analyze his u23’s performances, evaluate his communication skills, an obvious intricate part of being a PL defender, or gauge his overall attitude, maturity and state of mind, but I know he is world class and should be starting every game no matter what! Everyone on here seems to agree, so it must be true.

Abdiraham Ebar

I don’t think he will come back to arsenal because arsenal already bought unother player in his position
And I don’t think he will be willing to sit around and wait until one of the defenders get injury….I think he will try to run down the reminder of his contract with arsenal and then move on as a free agent….because of the way he’s being treated he will make sure arsenal won’t make any money
When he leaves


You win, that is dark.

pan Julian

The Saliba Wars continue. I’ve watched him a couple of times this season(vs St. Etienne and Lens) and while I did see some good touches, I also saw a lot of risky play and passes into pressure that would have seen him burned at the social media stake if they’d been done in an Arsenal shirt. The performance against PSG was a level above, but in the other games I did not see someone who would give me confidence. Even so, he clearly has elite potential and deserves a chance to usurp(or at least challenge) one of the defenders ahead… Read more »


he’ll play for Arsenal next season for sure, no doubt in my mind about it

Forest gooner

I think it has got something to do with the way we signed him in the first place. I smell under the table deal between our former head of football (remember how he left Arsenal when an internal inquiry was started…moreover Before coming to Arsenal, he was a close associate of Josep Maria Bartomeu.) and Saliba’s club. And we want to set an examine in the market to other clubs and agents that this week not be tolerated.

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