Monday, June 17, 2024

Former Gunner Mavididi lauds Saliba: “He’ll walk back into the Arsenal team next season”

Former Gunner Stephy Mavididi believes William Saliba has what it takes to be an Arsenal player, having seen the 20 year old up close and personal in Ligue 1 this season.

Mavididi, who now plays for Montpellier, was speaking in an interview with LiveScore, and said, “That guy’s a player. He’s hands down one of the best defenders in the league, hands down.

“I think he’ll walk back into the Arsenal team next season. When I played against him I thought ‘How is this guy not playing at Arsenal?!’

“He’s strong, good on the ball, he reads the game well. Sometimes you walk off the pitch and think ‘Fair play man, respect’ – the defender has kept up with you, out tussled you, and you have to say fair play, this guy’s a good player.

“He’s one of the best centre-backs I’ve faced. Everyone can talk about Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Jerome Boateng, but he’s up there. He’s the one that surprised me the most.

“I’m an Arsenal fan too and playing against Saliba I thought, we’ve got a very decent defender here!”

Having come through the Hale End ranks, Mavididi left Arsenal in 2018 to join Juventus, before making his move to France in 2020. He’s scored 8 goals and made 3 assists for a Montpellier side that are currently in 6th place and pushing for a European spot.

The Saliba situation is one that is of real interest to Arsenal fans, but what seems clear is that his loan spell with Marseille has been very good for his development. He’s had some blips as you would expect with any young defender, but in general his performances have earned him plenty of praise.

Speaking last week, he sounded like someone who understood the benefit of the decision to send him on loan, even if he was taken aback at the time.

“There are things like that in football,” he said, “There are difficult times. It’s not all rosy.

“Even if it didn’t go well on a personal level, I take it as an experience. It gave me a stronger mentality.

“Before going to Arsenal, I said to myself that I was going to play, I was convinced I would, I wondered who I was going to play with. I then arrived, I didn’t play any games, I played with the Under-23s. It gave me a good slap.

“For the coach, I wasn’t ready yet. When there was the first lockdown, I was at home in Paris. I didn’t do anything at all, I only ran a little, I didn’t have any physical condition.

“Then I came back. I trained for two weeks on my own. We had two or three friendlies but I had to regain physical condition.

“The league then followed quickly and the coach felt that I was not ready. I respect his decision.”

Hopefully his good season with Marseille will continue, and he comes back next season fully ready to stake a claim for a first team place.

Stephy Mavididi was speaking to LiveScore. To read the full interview head to LiveScore’s News Section

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“I respect the coach’s decision”.

Music to the ears, that.

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

This time next season, I believe even those who doubted it will be saying “what a good decision that was”.


Genuine question: where does he play? We signed a 53M quid defender in his position. The pathway I see is for white to move into midfield or we qualify for champs league. Otherwise he’s a bench player. Still can’t see the pathway to an arsenal career for this guy. We burned too many bridges.


I don’t believe that at all. Unless we finish outside Europe there will be plenty of chances. And either Gabriel or White are these invincible undropable players like Kompany, Van Dijk etc. I see no reason why Saliba would not be able to fight for a spot.


Last time we were told the European games were a waste of time for him anyway, now they’re crucial to his development. You’re having a laugh here.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Well, the coach himself wasn’t ready. We’ve experienced this lately.


He best get ready to play as a striker.



Reiss Neverseen & the DicTeta

In the full interview, he also mentioned that having to play with the youth team (AFC U23s) was a good slap in the face.

I guess Blogs ran out of word space☺

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

Whoops my mistake.

Apologies .


Try seeing beyond the agenda …

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

Can I ask that you provide the same courtesy😁


Whatever do you mean? 😉

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta


The Far Post

Some of his previous statements sounded more bitter, so this acknowledgement that he was in poor form when he came back from Paris gives me hope that things will work out in the end.

Artetas Assistant

Slaps don’t taste sweet, but this is proof that a slap can be good.


Mikel was doing it for his long term benefit. After all he is a young player with not much training load having also come back from surgery the previous season

Reiss Neverseen & the DicTeta

In my view, Mikel was thinking about himself when he made that decision. He didn’t want to take a risk on a young defender je didn’t fancy in the event it would cost points and ultimately his job. The injury argument is so-so. At the beginning of the Europa League group stages, Saliba was fit but Arteta registered an injured Mustafi who was still recovering from surgery over him. To make matters worse, we were also amidst a CB injury crisis at the time but because of Mikel’s reluctance to play Saliba, we had to field Xhaka, Kolasinac and Elneny… Read more »

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

I don’t think it was done for Saliba’s benefit. I think it was Mikel looking out for his job. He didn’t want to take a chance on a your defender he didn’t really fancy.

At the time we were amidst an injury crisis at CB and Saliba was fit. Mikel still registered an injured Mustafi who was coming back from injury and recovering from surgery in the Europa League.

We had to play Kolasinac, Xhaka and Elneny at CB because of Mikel’s reluctance to play Saliba. I don’t see who benefited from that.


Was it looking out for his job, or trying to do what’s best for the success of The Arsenal?

As was said above, try looking past the personal agenda..

Credit where it’s due, Arteta made a good call. Through the miracle of hindsight the player himself recognizes this.

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

As I said, in my view, it was Mikel looking out for his job. This was also around the time ESR had returned from injury but he wasn’t getting any league minutes despite his Europa League form. How was keeping our only creative midfielder (that was registered) on the bench and playing makeshift players instead of a specialized CB doing “what’s best for the success of The Arsenal”?😁 Do I have an agenda because I just don’t see why Mikel should be credited for things out of his control? Should I congratulate him for Mavropanos and Guendouzi too? There are… Read more »


Was that why he registered an injured Mustafi to play in dead rubber Europa League games ahead of him?

For the long-term benefit of the player?
I’m sure he benefited plenty from not playing for almost a year.

Inspector norse

like 4 months dude, and there was u23, it’s not many at that age that plays first team football in the top 5 leagues anyways.


He was probably frustrated as he wasn’t getting to play week in and week out and his future was in doubt. Its a tough thing to deal with and as a young player its hard to be mature/professional about it.


“For the coach, I wasn’t ready yet. When there was the first lockdown, I was at home in Paris. I didn’t do anything at all, I only ran a little, I didn’t have any physical condition. “Then I came back. I trained for two weeks on my own. We had two or three friendlies but I had to regain physical condition. “The league then followed quickly and the coach felt that I was not ready. I respect his decision.” This gives us some real insight on why Arteta deemed he needed to go out on loan. Another question though is… Read more »


In france they weren’t allowed to leave their house, and being 18/19 at the time I doubt he had a huge house with gym etc in it

A Different George

The French police actually enforced the rules about isolation. Saliba probably was unable to fly to London to party with Boris.


“I think he’ll walk back into the Arsenal team next season.”

Not if Arteta has anything to do with it.


You’re getting downvoted but I think you’re right. I looks like Arteta just doesn’t personally like Saliba. Taking things personally appears to be Arteta’s big weakness as a manager. We’ve just released a world-class striker for nothing just because he’s stood up to the manager and argued with him. Ridiculous. It looks like you can be complete rubbish but Arteta will look after you – as long as you kiss his backside and don’t argue with him. Just ask Xhaka and Nketia. But dare to disagree with the boss and you’re out. Guendouzi, Ozil and Auba can attest to that.… Read more »

Announce Bendtner

Not sure when you rented a room in Artetas head. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors and all we can do is speculate. Some speculation is supported by evidence and other is just opinions or 2+2=5. “We just released a world class striker for nothing”. What part of this season and last season was world class about Auba? Yes he has the ability but he wasn’t banging in goals and on top of that he apparently wasn’t setting the correct example in terms of being captain / timekeeping. Culture is everything, ask Utd fans that. So you can… Read more »

VAR will solve all the problems

Absolutely spot on. For Auba’s situation, not sure if it was solely Arteta’s decision. First of all, Auba could easily have pulled an Ozil and not leave and collect his paycheck for 18 months. Arsenal as a club would have been obligated to pay that much salary to Auba. That decision to write off close to 20 to 30 mill loss solely depends on Kroenke not Artea. He is the owner of the club and board would have probably gotten rid of Arteta instead of Auba if it was just a clash of ego instead of taking up such a… Read more »

Lads…it’s Fatgooner.

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

You’re right. We don’t know all that happened but I don’t see you telling people who believe Auba was guilty of much worse to stop speculating. Every striker at Arsenal has struggled for goals. As long as this rigid positional play system remains, we’ll continue to have this problem. In the EPL, Auba scored 10 goals out of 17 chances in 20/21. In comparison. Vardy scored 15 goals out of 34 chances in 20/21 and Salah scored 22 goals out of 41 chances in 20/21. Tbh Some of us are just tired of blaming scapegoats for what is very clearly… Read more »

Announce Bendtner

It’s not my job to call out all speculation. I’m just making the point that speculation is just that. Some people are treating some speculation as pure fact. I called out original comment about it definitely being Artetas ego. Yes the system we play may not suit Auba but your telling me prime/top form Auba would have missed some sitters? I love Auba, think he’s a quality player but he just wasn’t performing the way the team needed him. Ramsdale came in with little hype, many couldn’t understand why we paid so much for a back up keeper. He didn’t… Read more »

Zadok the Motherfucking Priest

My understanding of the “rigid positional play system” is that it is supposed to provide a platform for the team to build on. And I often get the impression that with only a couple of better players or more options off the bench we’d get far more goals from it. Man City do the same thing, but they profit from having a higher calibre of player and also a greater variety of options off the bench, which affords them the creativity to create goals off that platform. Whereas we don’t have so many players nor such depth, which is why… Read more »

Zadok the Regular Priest

Fats I love and respect your hot takes but this doesn’t strike me as a very nuanced view on Arteta. I think it’s more that Arteta doesn’t like potentially corruptive dressing room influences. I wouldn’t call this a weakness of the manager so much as a policy that has pros and drawbacks. In this case, the pros are that we have a much more unified squad than we once did, but the drawback is that sometimes players like Auba fall by the wayside. As far as I’m concerned this is just Arteta’s managerial style, and I have much greater faith… Read more »

Yankee Gooner

I’d keep Guendouzi separate from Özil-Auba, tbh. With the latter, it’s impossible for me to ignore that the same unlikely scenario (some hidden grievous offense) just happens to affect the two highest-paid players who’ve fallen out of form, perhaps for good, with a lot of time left on their contracts. Özil just had enough “fuck you” in him to weather it longer. If memory serves, the Guendouzi situation comes with actual reports of his dysfunction behind the scenes?

Announce Bendtner

From speculation/media reports I think Guendozi just has personality characteristics that can be irritating/unsettling to others. It’s a case of whether the manager believes the ability warrants the challenge of managing such a personality. A bit like balotelli (minus the fireworks). If he demonstrates significant ability consistently a manager may think the headache is worth it.


Wasn’t it rumoured that Guendouzi got drunk on the winter break to Dubai, was dancing on tables/making a scene & when told to get down & go back to the hotel, offered Arteta & possibly some members of staff outside then refused to apologise in the aftermath even though several senior team mates supposedly asked him too? But yeah, 100% Arteta’s ego according to some

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

Auba definitely looked world class during the past 18 months. He mastered the art of missing sitters and being ineffective

Glory Hunter

We’ve all been here long enough to know that fatgooner is right, he’s a glass half empty type of guy but he’s usually right whereas majority of us fans hope and want the best for our club, he calls it as he sees it. Arteta’s ego will ultimately be is undoing, I think he’ll be a very good manager when he matures and gains more experience.


Thanks, Dad.


Perhaps he caught them smoking hippy crack …. again. Anyone who drives a gold plated supercar may have an ego … just saying. Arteta is doing okay and if laca had scored v Burnley all wd be bright. . but if no top 6 this season he must be booted for .????

Artetas Assistant

It has come to my notice that there is an imposter by the title of Arteta’s Assistant. I am the one true Artetas Assistant and He can’t possibly have good intentions. Streets will decide


He’s RCB, right?

If he comes back, will be interesting to see how it all plays out since we’ve got a certain Benny Blanco who nailed that spot. I know it’s a good problem to have, but still.


It will be a good problem, and a necessary one if we want to compete in Europe and multiple domestic competitions

The Beast

Fingers crossed we’ll have more than enough matches to go round when/if we qualify for europe.

Also, maybe that’ll take care of RB cover for Tomi?

VAR will solve all the problems

It will be better for both of them and both of them have to raise their level. Without competition for places, you can’t create a world class team. You need defenders like Saliba to put pressure on both Gabriel and Benjamin. With all due respect to Holding, he can’t provide that level of competition.

Announce Bendtner

Agree, it’s done wonders for Ramsdale/Leno situation. Ramsdale knows any drop in form opens the door to Leno. Leno knows any opportunity must be taken.

The Far Post

Think that is an optimistic take on the Ramsdale/Leno situation. I’m sure Leno is professional, but it seems like he has been dissatisfied, perhaps even before the Ramsdale transfer. He is just biding his time until the summer transfer.

Announce Bendtner

Ramsdale came in and took his opportunity. Leno had game time but wasn’t able to take his spot back.
I accept Leno is resigned to leaving but the Ramsdale progress sends the correct message. You will need to perform and if your perform you will be rewarded.


I can see us possibly playing 3 at the back with Tomi & KT as wing backs. Who gets sacrificed for Saliba is anybodys guess though if we do


First order of business in the summer should be to extend his contract.

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

This is definitely a concern, he’ll have two years left in the summer and not a lot of motivation to sign a new deal until he sees how next season goes. Hopefully we can persuade him with a pay rise, but it could help adding another young French speaking player to the squad. Often we take it for granted that these young players can move to a new country and settle in, but if no one speaks your language it will be twice as hard (I think Pepe will be our only French speaking player after Laca leaves, and who… Read more »

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

Linked to the above, Tyler Adams (USA) from Leipzig has been rumoured recently – he can play at RB and DCM so would solve two positions (AMN MKII, but predominantly DCM and very good in both positions). Is it a coincidence that we signed two American players last week in Trusty and Turner, or is it measures to attract Adams? Hopefully the latter

Fred the Dreaded Phred

Considering that Arsenal are an English club who predominantly speak English, I’d say no.


Running out of French speakers… who would have thought?
Gabriel played in France for 3 years, should help. And if we do need another French speaker, I hear a certain Kylian M. is available in the summer.

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

Encouraging to hear Saliba making the right noises. I think that we will be determined to keep him, and in fairness we have played it quite well. We have probably recouped about 10% of his £27m cost in loan fees and not paid his wages. Bizarrely he is eligible as a homegrown player from next season, so he will essentially carry the English premium. My worry is that his contract expires in June 2024, so really we need him to be signing a new deal within the 12 months. It is hard to imagine him signing a new deal until… Read more »

TakeHERO Tommy

I was worrying about the contract thing too.. I wish we had got him signed up for 1 extra year, but you’re right, a decision will have to be made by end of next season latest if we want to recoup any value.

My hope is that after a season of playing with us he’ll want to extend rather than jumping club again after all these loans.

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

The fact Saliba is talking positively about Arsenal does fill me with some hope that he wants to play for us. I doubt he’d be making such comments unless he’d been told in no uncertain terms that he is wanted at the club and is part of the plans, so it is a positive sign in my opinion


Interesting that if Saliba is as good as we hear, it begs the question does he play ahead of our recent £50m signing on the right of defence? I’m all for getting our best players on the pitch. Do we revert to a back 5 (unlikely)? Do we stay as a back 4 and alternate? Not ideal as the defence is the area of the team where consistency in line up most contributes to quality. And would either White or Saliba take sitting on the bench for half a season? I wonder whether whether we’ll be looking to get a… Read more »


It’s a squad game, we should be rotating players regularly anyway, instead of flogging them to exhaustion. Even without European football, our squad has been stretched to it’s limits. There’ll be plenty of minutes to go around next season.


Sorry, but I disagree. Even at Man City Diaz and Laporte start 99% of the games they’re fit for. Rotating at CB just doesn’t work. You can have a first team CB and a reserve team CB who plays in cup games, but you stick with consistency in the defence when it matters.


Yeah, but a few months it was Dias and Stones, and Aké played against us for instance… There is definitely enough game time for 3-4 CBs with Europe and the cups.

It’s a comfort knowing Saliba is coming back into the squad for next season.

The recruitment team can spend the next few months scouting and focusing on more pressing areas of the pitch.


Hopefully, next season we’ll be competing in Europe, as well as making a better go of the cups. If our four CB options are White, Gabriel, Saliba and Holding, I’m more than OK with that — that’s a group that can push each other, provide real cover (including at RB), and compete on multiple fronts.

Alex Manninger

We also just signed that Trusty guy. Makes it 5 CB – one too much of don’t plan to go back to a back 3.


He’s going on loan, already reported as pre-planned


Kind of funny how only a season and a half ago you’d have said we were a total mess in terms of CB options and there was a dearth of obvious recruitment options in the market, whereas up top we were very well stocked. 18 months later we don’t have a clue what the plan for our strikers is but are rather happy with the centre backs…


Had a poor game last night v Lyon. Guendouzi was fantastic though, a heart and soul performance yet again and grabbed the opening goal with a near post header Fromm’s corner.


* from a corner.


Real madrid has been sniffing around him. With 2 years left on his contract when he returns, why would he extend to bench for White? Do we have an option for a 1 year extension? I think the club will happily take 50mil for him, rather than risk letting him run down his contract.


We need to offer him a bumper 5 year deal and slap a £150m release clause on him

I see Barca have just put a €100m RC on Auba

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

The buyout clause is always an option in every employment contract in Spain.


I watched their game against Lyon yesterday. Dembele tricked him in the last minute that cost them a lot, but until then he was clearly one of the best players on the pitch (if not “the best”).


Great fun watching Marseille this season with Sampaoli in charge and the Arsenal lads. Incidentally Marseille have the equal best defence in the league with Nice and PSG after last night’s game, 18 conceded in 22 with Saliba a key cog.


I think it is great that Mikel risks his reputation to send him out on loan to grow, and at the same time really impress upon him that what he expects when he returns to the premier league is what the current youngsters are doing… hard games week in week out and no rest, just taking it to the limit of your loading.

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

That’s how you see it? Fair enough.


The loans wouldn’t be an issue if Mikel had registered him last year and played him in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.
Instead, he registered Mustafi who was injured, was going to leave on a free in January and who was, well, Mustafi.
To date, this is one of the most baffling decisions I’ve seen an Arsenal manager make, matched only by the decision to play Xhaka at left back for the Europa League semifinal, and Arsene’s decision to play Ox at left back against a team he would sign for in less than a week.

Olawale Olayemi

We’ll be beastly next season. I just hope Arteta will have selection headaches cuz any mix of our back 4 will always be good enough to do the job

Kentish Gooner

I really hope he gets a look in next season. Just have this feeling he’s going to be a world-beater in a few years time.

However, if we don’t qualify for the CL or UEL, I fear he’ll be on his way as there won’t be room for three top class CBs.


If we don’t get EL the only person leaving should be Arteta


not sure i want saliba taking the massive step down in coaching talent from sampaoli to arteta


Does he get in ahead of Gabriel or White though?


Good question, football is very much about partnerships especially at centre half. Who would complement eachother best, remember the partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny worked so well that Vermaelen the then captain had to sit on the bench and later was moved on as that Koscielny-Mertesacker axis worked best.


He’ll get his chance, and a back ridiculous back three if required…

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

It would be interesting in some pre season friendlies to try White out at DCM. Declan Rice began life as a CB and moulded into a very good DCM – White does have similar kinds of qualities as Rice (that’s not to say he’d be able to make the same transition, but worth a try in a meaningless friendly or two.) We could potentially use the same formation as Pool and City with 3 CM, with White at the base and Partey/MO ahead of him. If we sign a mobile right back as cover for Tomi (in the Nuno Taveres… Read more »


I’d really love to see this tried. It feels like Saliba will need a lot of game time to be convinced into a new contract, White is too good to rot on the bench, and he does have a very interesting profile for midfield – an area we’re short at the moment.


With no European football this season he wouldn’t have enough game time. Next season it will be 3 CBs rotating or he will be sold for good money. I’m fine either way, people need to relax

Sak, Lac & Craic

Laporte, Dias, Stones, Ake

VVD, Matip, Kounde, Gomez

Gabriel, White, Saliba, Holding

You need four.


Plus the American lad, who is left footed and looks like a Gabriel deputy (maybe)


Kounde? You mean Konate unless you know something nobody else does?

Sak, Lac & Craic

Also if we release Holding we’ll really be losing our grip…


Mavididi was a good young player. Great to read he’s making a good career for himself. The shit is hard.

As for Saliba he could be our VVD – danger is making Top 4 asap because if we are in the Europa after next season he’s almost definitely gonna be snapped up


Or his contract will be cancelled because Arteta doesn’t like his face and/or to save some money from the wage bill for Stan.


I wonder if we’ll get to see how a Gabriel / Saliba partnership might look like with White playing as a DM in front of them? Worth a try in pre-season, surely?

Reiss Neverseen & El Dicteta

That actually sounds exciting.


Or Arteta will deem he can’t get along with Saliba and sell him. Makes zero sense to loan him this season and buy White for 50m He could have come straight into the first team with Gabriel and Holding (Maybe add a cheaper older stop gap option on a season loan as back up) Save the 50m last summer spent on white, we could have got Neves AND Odsonne Edoard or another up and coming striker. Edu and Arteta are arrogant and clueless. Some people still harpinmg on about the jury is still out idiocy. We are out of all… Read more »


Along with Saliba, Arteta had Guendouzi even Torreira to call into the squad.

Rather than manage them properly, he arrogantly prescribed his way or highway alienating the players.

Auba is good enough on loan for Barca (even if as back up) and for free but not deemed good enough as an option for our stuttering attack line.


cannon and ball and arse'n'all

I’m not sure it is arrogance, I think it is just part of a strategy. Arsenal have been long accused of being a soft touch, lack of heart, lack of leaders, lack of unity and team spirit etc. To my mind Arteta has been wielding the axe to remedy this. Ozil was a by all accounts a divisive character in the changing room, and his pay grade versus his productivity will likely have caused unrest. Whilst he was a great player, his performances were the epitome of Arsenal as a soft touch. Now look at our current squad. Pretty much… Read more »

Merlin’s Panini

Good to read this. Looks like Saliba’s growing up well and understands the benefit of hindsight. That’s the sort of attitude needed to reach the top.
Also nice to see Mavididi has found somewhere he gets the game time he needs to fulfil his potential. He was so highly rated as a youth player.

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