Sunday, July 3, 2022

Saliba: I can’t just be on the bench at Arsenal

Will William Saliba play for Arsenal? As he closes in on the end of his loan spell with Marseille, it’s a question that bubbles up week after week.

A regular at the Stade Velodrome – the centre-back has made 40 appearances this season – his time in the south of France couldn’t have gone much better. Underlining his progress, he last week became a fully-fledged France international.

On Thursday, Mikel Arteta said he’s pleased with how things are going for the 21-year-old but it remains to be seen how he fits into next season’s plans.

For his part, Saliba is adamant he won’t go back to being a benchwarmer.

“I’m sure I can’t just be on the bench at Arsenal and be happy,” he told L’Equipe this week.

“I want to play as a starter. Afterwards, if I come into the rotation as a substitute, it’s not like staying with the Under-23s and never being in the squad.”

Signed from Saint-Etienne for £27 million in 2019, the defender was immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 club with a view to garnering more first team experience.

Injuries and the pandemic put a spanner in the works and on returning to London he also found himself having to impress a new boss.

Arteta quickly decided Saliba wasn’t going to be part of his plans and sanctioned another loan that Arsenal messily failed to get done in time.

Not registered with the first team, he was subsequently forced to play with the under-23s for four months before Nice took him on loan in the second half of the season. That spell was enough to persuade Marseille to make their move and the Gunners didn’t stand in the way.

This season, we’ve been monitoring him closely, sending Edu and loan manager Ben Knapper to watch him in person.

“They [Arsenal] are often in contact with my agent,” Saliba reflected.

“They send me messages. They watch my matches. They tell me to continue like this. I haven’t played much with the Gunners. The coach [Mikel Arteta] made his choices, that’s life. I left on loan, I played matches and, thanks to my performances, I became a [senior] international.

“What happened to me helped forge a mental toughness. You don’t play just because you cost €30million. I take it positively. Even if there are times when you ask yourself questions.

“For six months, I saw that I was the only one in the group not to play, it hurt.”

It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what we do with Saliba. If he’s thinking he could make France’s squad for the World Cup in November/December, it could well influence his thinking when discussions with Arsenal take place in the summer.

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Peter Cechs helmet

Au revior.
Miki won’t like such talk.

Johnny 4 Hats

Yeah, I’m not sure he understands quite what a big club Arsenal is. You don’t just come in and automatically play every game. No player has that luxury. Even Martinelli and Smith Rowe have to fight it out.

I can’t see this working. But I do think we will comfortably get our money back.


We need to change our mentality in the market….we need to get full value on transfers, because we always seem to pay full prices.

He is worth £50m plus all day long, so if he’s gonna moan I think it’s fair enough to cash in. I thought Araujo on a free made a lot of sense.

Saliba seems to have a bit of an ego and attitude, and much as I’d love to see him in the squad, I don’t want any toxic shit rocking the good ship Gunners atm 👊💥

Johnny 4 Hats

Let’s be honest, it was a very strange transfer. At a time when we needed seasoned pros in their mid twenties we went for a teenage CB.

In future we shouldn’t buy expensive teenagers unless they are guaranteed to be able to do a job instantly. We just don’t have the luxury of City or Chelsea of buying these players and allowing them to slowly blossom over three or four seasons.

Really weird one. Kind of sick of taking about it too. Getting a bit too Ozil for my liking. But at least Ozil actually played for us.


Jude Bellingham is 18. Age is just a number, but whoever we buy has to accept they are part of a squad and only get picked on merit….that’s when we get better

Johnny 4 Hats

He’s also proven himself at the highest standard. And he’s not a CB.

When you’ve got a very limited budget, to buy a player for £30m and immediately loan them out is weird. We are three years into this transfer. Alex Iwobi left the club the same window. It’s getting a little silly.

Luckily this summer will be make or break. And I’m guessing break. But still it won’t be over because every time he has a good game at his new club fans will jump on Twitter to pile on Mikel.

Determination Cultured

Raul’s oily fingers were in the transfer

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

You wouldn’t have bought De Bruyne at his exit from Chelsea then.


That is not what he said, imo. He doesn’t belong with the u23s, that we can all agree. But as a starter he comes into the starting rotation, which is exactly what MA wants. It’s sounds like he would be happy there, fighting for the right, weekly. COYG!!!


That’s what I wanna hear from him – “I’m ready to go back to Arsenal to help the team and to fight for my place” – end of.

A Different George

I’m pretty sure that’s what he said–that he has earned a chance to prove himself in the first team, not that he has earned a right to be in the first team automatically.


Why would he say that when he was never given a chance to compete for a place? If Saliba had been given a chance and did not take it, then the criticism would be fair. That is not and never was the case. Ben White had no more experience than Saliba when he came into Arsenal’s team. A year of Premier League experience at a mediocre team and Arsenal paid $50 million for him. Saliba was starring at St. Etienne, and Arsenal paid 27 million. White has been good, but hardly Van Dijk, but Saliba has more than proven his… Read more »

Frank Bascombe

Somebody who actually read. Nice one man.

Bleeding gums murphy

It’s a great shame and as I much love what Arteta is doing, I believe he did not handle this well. We will definitely get money back and I think we may even make some money. Pepe is gonna be massive loss. Will we get £30 million for him ?


He just scored another great goal for Ivory Coast against France, so he’s in the shop window.

He’s gotta still be worth £30m plus based on his natural ability and his reputation from Lille. He just needs to be in a team and a league that suits him.

I’d love to swap him for Raphinha or similar….someone with the skill but also the ability to fit into the team ethic.


Do not count on a Salibsa payday. Arsenal have bungled this from the start and Arteta’s lack of humility will cause trouble here again. All Salibsa has to do is refuse to sign a new deal and say so publicly. His value goes in the toilet and team will wait to sign him on the cheap or on a free the following season. It is funny (funny odd, not funny haha) that two of Marseilles best players are both collecting Arsenal paychecks while leading the French side to the Champions league. Guendouzi also made the French national team, but was… Read more »


This have a bad smell about it! Its like he is indirectly demanding to start without saying it outright. I remember guendouzi doing the samething when he wasn’t playing and we all know how that ended. This kid has a chip up is shoulder and I get this feeling arteta saw that from the offset. I want this to work but doesn’t look like it will. Hope I am wrong, because he is a super talent.


Not demanding, but referencing his earlier experience at not being given so much as a chance.

He is saying, out loud, do not bring me back if you plan to treat me like you did last time.

Arteta will, no doubt see it as an insult and a challenge to his fragile ego. Maybe it is, but in his place, with his ability, and his resume he has every right to tell any club that wants him that he is not willing to sit on the bench.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

But he has done everything expected from him very well and still haven’t played a minute. Plus, if you become a french international, you cannot just sit on the bench and be happy. He probably wants Arsenal to sell him to a big team if there is no plan to give him minutes.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Saliba was the reason, we sold Bielik, a boy that I rated very high at the time. Bielik never recovered due to injuries and having Rooney as his manager.


I think we have a good problem here. Saliba is a good defender, if he comes to us, he will strengthen our defense, if he leaves, I’m sure we make a good money out of his sale. He is a good investment.

Reality check

The decision was made when Mustafi and Papa were chosen over him and then his shirt number was given to a brand new 50m CB the following season. The thing is, Arteta has shown no interest in Saliba, no mentions or plans to integrate him in the team.
Unless Arteta changes his mind, as things stand, Saliba will not play for Arsenal so we must get as much money out of this as possible. no nore loans, straight sale and get another decent CB in.


TBH, I think some guys here are really biased towards MA. If it was onyone else saying I want to be a regular, they would have praised them for the right attitude. But as it’s Saliba, wow… he should watch his mouth. My opinion is that even if he is not the person Mikel wants, as a manager of a big club like Arsenal, he should be able to make the most of him. He should play him when needed, and then sell him with the right price afterwards if things didn’t change between them. This is what I expect… Read more »


One has to read the full article, but even the subtile is enough to me : “not sure to be there (in Marseille) next season, he wants to seize every moments and enjoy as much as he can”.
As others mention below, not really vindicative, probably a bit of agent play… I think he’ll be back to Colney next season, as we’ll hopefully at least play Europa league and we’ll need him for sure. In Arsenal I trust👊


PS: go Brentford!!


Whatever the merits of Saliba, I suspect people are going to be disappointed if they expect some strategic sale. Contract running out, no English premium, manager’s making no effort to pretend like we could use him, player’s reciprocating in kind. Probably be sold at cost, put it on the process tab.


Arsenal won’t get 27 million for him if they don’t at least play the game and say they plan to bring him back and use him. What will probably happen is; Arteta will say something that sounds reasonable to fans, but is really an insult – Anyone who wants to play at a big club like Arsneal has to prove they deserve to be here…. etc, etc. True, but considering Arteta’s poor treatment of Saliba earlier and Saliba’s subsequent star turns at Nicew and Marseille, he has proven himself. Arteta slotted less proven players like Ben White and Gabriel right… Read more »


I don’t like Petr Cech even though he played for Arsenal. Not all former Chelsea players are the same. I’d love to have David Luiz back join our coaching staff. He was a huge positive influence on the young players.

Tom 007

We need depth. Of course we need him when we play 3 at the back… Bench or not he is our player..


Saliba and 3 at the back?

You know what what truly scares the opposition? When they’re 1-2 down with 8 minutes to go and see Rob Holding coming on. Game’s gone.


Dun really think we need to switch tp a back 3 to accommodate him. But once we get into CL, we will basically need 2 sets of 11s and he is definitely in the plan with the current formation


Seems like a pretty determined young man, but no-one can/should expect/demand to be a starter, especially when you join a new club.


Especially when the established players compliment each other so well and have hardly put a foot wrong all season.

Saliba is young, I hope he has the desire to stay. If not, so be it. You’re in or out with this team of fighters.


TBF, he “joined” three years ago.
And pretty much all good young players say stuff like this.


“I want to play as a starter” “I can’t just be on the bench” Key words there for me are “want” and “just”. He isn’t demanding to play as a starter. He simply doesn’t want to only warm the bench. “Afterwards, if I come into the rotation as a substitute, it’s not like staying with the Under-23s and never being in the squad.” Seems to me like he is saying that if he isn’t a starter, then at least being in rotation and accepting he will be a substitute is significantly different from what went on before. I read these… Read more »


The exact same way I interpreted what I read

Onye Igbo

He gat gurts mehn


Sell him and buy a striker.

DB10s Air miles

*Keep him and buy a striker.


Somebody tell this guy that your performances can make you a starter. Even if you started the season on the bench.
Also, if he doesn’t sign a new deal before the end of transfer window, we must sell. That money can get us another top young centre-back.


Saliba s answers are without the questions hence a bit out if context.
I am not sure I can 100% understand what he means.

Of course I agree that your performances should make you starter but if you never play because of the fear that we will break an established CB pair?
Even though you maybe are better than Ben White and potentially with time be a better CB pair.
Who can say that Ben White is definitely better than Saliba or peak Saliba or a better partner for Gabriel?


Difficult one for Arteta, this guy has the potential to be genuinely world class, if we let him go I believe we will end up regretting it, he seems a bit head strong but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing and something that any coach or club he plays for is going to have to deal with.
As good as they have been this season I believe this kid has a higher ceiling than BW and Gabby, at 21 he is already at or close to that level and will get better. His only weakness seems to be inexperience.

Walter White

He is only 1 injury away from being a starter. And should the unthinkable happen that no injuries occure, he’ll still get a good amount of playtime now that European Football (most likely) will be around.
Hopefully he joins.


Arteta’s reluctance to rotate is a worry. Although with European football next season, there will be plenty of game time.


Well, PL inexperience is not a weakness, Gabriel came from the same lwague and has done well.
I know people like MA because there are good signs of change, and that in the right direction, I also like him, but he is not error-free. I think he can’t handle these things properly, what he needs to improve on.
Do you guys remember how many times Wenger did the same with a player?


Alexis is a clear example. He was so f**king a**hole that was laughing at the team everytime we were in trouble, but was sold at a good price. You can compare it with what we have done with Auba.
P.S. I wished Alexis having no goal after he left, and thanks god he is close to an average of almost 1 goal per season.


Like clockwork, even the slightest reasonable criticism of Arteta and the down votes rain down. The arseblog comments section has become a joke.


Yes, exactly. People would like to hear this: Arteta is the greatest ever manager, he has not made any mistake, he is on ghe right side vs. Ozil, MG, Auba, etc, we will be in top 4 this year, we will win the champions league next year, blah blah.


You really don’t get the feeling he’s that keen on coming back and to me, he’s not seemed that keen right from the start. Self belief is not necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a kind of arrogance going on with this guy, that’s hard to like.


I can understand that given his new international status and the incoming World Cup, he’s worried about game time at Arsenal next season. Let’s hope we get Champions League, and he gets to play half the PL games…
But considering his contract situation, our decent choice of CBs and our need for cash in the summer, I’m starting to think we might sell him if we can get decent money – even though I’d deeply regret it considering his world-class potential.

Walter White

This is where buy-back clauses are really nice.


“I want to play as a starter. Afterwards, if I come into the rotation as a substitute, it’s not like staying with the Under-23s and never being in the squad.” Can’t help feeling there is somewhat of a translation tissue here, the sentence doesn’t really make sense, I think what he is trying to say is that of course he wants to play but being involved in the main group and not the u23 is important. Also worth pointing out there is nothing wrong with wanting to start every game, if you have a player happy to just be in… Read more »


Yeah, my thoughts exactly. If you just remove the “afterwards”, it seems to make a lot more sense. So maybe he meant initially? Or afterwards [when he returns to Arsenal]?

But this is how I’ve interpreted what he is saying and honestly, I’ve no problem with it. It’s the attitude he should have.

Assuming he signs a new deal and we do not get a crazy money offer for him, I’m excited to see him challenge White and Gabriel for a spot.


He’s been through a lot in the last few years

Would be great to see him work his way into our squad.


Must have been anticlimactic for him, everything going well, Signed for a big club and at 18 I’m sure he was dreaming of glory. Instead of which he got a reality check, not treated specially, loaned back out, probably felt like he was going backwards. But really it’s just what he needs it will strengthen him mentally and season him as a player. Without it the Prem could eat him alive. So really what he has to do is trust the process and he’ll be just fine. Hopefully we’ll see him start to be integrated next season and I’m sure… Read more »


Play with three at the back with two wingbacks aswell as the system we play at the minute rotating with the Gaby and white. Nothing wrong with having a plan B… Up the Gunners…


This is a no brainer he returns and plays in rotation with our other center backs .. as personally saliba is twice the player holding is, and if we do get Europe we can’t play the same defenders mid week and weekends they will burn out and suffer injury… selling him would be a major fudge up … in 2 years this guy will be world class just need to be playing here in the premier league ….


I would refrain from the world class accolades until he has cut his teeth in the Premiership.

Still the toughest league in the world.


Sadly, I don’t think he’ll ever play for us.


Saliba is a good player and neees to be integrated into the Arsenal squad but he talks too much. Pride comes before a fall.


He’s got to realise that he’s going to be down the pecking order behind White and Gabriel – if Arteta plays a back four.

He may get the immediate nod if Arteta plays three at the back, but to be honest I can’t see that happening too frequently, if at all.

I’m admiring Arteta that he’s putting together a squad that are fighting for one another – not just themselves.

Saliba has to toe the line too, otherwise, in my opinion, he can sling his hook, no matter how talented he is.

Cranky Colin

A chip on both shoulders?
Hopefully not….


Whilst White has improved immensely in the air since his first outing at Brentford, there have been moments when he was caught under. Most recently in the game against Switzerland. Saliba is taller, and has the potential to be better in the area. Whilst Gabriel has improved his passing this season, there have been moments he’s been reckless with the ball at his feet. Saliba is one of the best ballplaying CBs in the world at 21. He can only become better. I think what Saliba is asking for is that he is given a proper look in pre-season and… Read more »

Gervinho is Driving

Big clubs have good players on the bench and rotate them through multiple competitions, international obligations, injuries and injury prevention. Stay at Arsenal and he’ll get plenty of first team football.


I know, his French so he must be arrogant. Anyway, what he said basically, is that there’s a difference between being in a rotation, or just with the group, or being left with the U23. That a guy, who is now international in a team not so bad, don’t want to play with kids and at least have a chance, is, from my point of view, quite reasonable.


I went to the source (L’Equipe). To be precise in the translation, he said “I can’t be satisfied being on the bench at Arsenal. I want to play as a starter. But then, if I enter the rotation as a substitute, it’s not like staying with the U23 and never being in the squad”. Basically, he just says, I’m ready to fight for a spot, but if you don’t deem me good enough for the first team, let me be elsewhere.


We’ll, how’s his English? (Honest question because I honestly don’t know..) Given the recent talk that’s one way he needs to e on it for serious consideration and to fight successfully for a starting spot.


Meanwhile, following Chelsea’s hammering by Brentford, Man Ure drop two points against Leicester and might have dropped all 3 if not for VAR.

The other results were:

Man Ure 2, Leicester 2 (yellow cards).
Man Ure 13, Leicester 6 (fouls committed)


Blogs, your slogan has caught on! There was a foul by Scott McTominay which many who saw the game thought deserved a red card. The phrase “If that was Granit Xhaka” cropped up a few times in the comments following the report on the game.

Kentish Gonner

I’d be gutted if he leaves without having a full season with us, in and around the first team. He’s going to be world class. Yes, he’s playing in the farmer’s league but he’s proven himself there since the age of 18. He’s also been through some tough sh*t at a young age. Hope he gets a chance.


It is a happy problem for Arsenal when we have competition for positions in the team.

Brady’s bunch

He reminds me of Anelka for some reason but I hope turns out differently and even if it doesn’t I think there’s enough about him to make a profit selling him on.


Nailed it.

He does seem to be a ‘Me Me Me’ merchant.

Which, to be honest, might be a good reason to move him on.

Hopefully Arteta will spell out the non-negotiables to him in as many languages as he may require, but, you know what they say, it only takes one bad apple, etc.

Hopefully this one has a happy ending. The last thing this current squad requires is a player with the ego of Nicholas Anelka.


Asd an Arsenal fan I would love to see him back in Red and White, but Saliba would be an idiot to return to Arsenal. He is a top player, with everything to play for. It is mystifying how a player good enough to play for France is somehow not good enough for Arsenal. Once Arteta decides he does not like a player, there is no chance of reconciliation. Returning to Arsenal would, at best, be a huge gamble. Arsenal’s manager’s thin skin and inability to manage players with big personalities suggest that a return to The Emirates would be… Read more »

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