Sunday, April 21, 2024

Arteta: Saliba progress proves loan moves were right decision

Three years after signing for the Gunners in a £27 million deal, William Saliba looks set to make his competitive debut for Arsenal as Mikel Arteta’s men get the 2022/23 season underway at Crystal Palace.

Green behind the ears when he first arrived in London, the 21-year-old has since embarked on three loan spells away from the club, become a fully-fledged France international and been crowned France’s Young Player of the Year.

While his pathway to the first team at Emirates Stadium has been very unusual, manager Arteta believes the player’s promising progress is proof the club were right to send him elsewhere to play regular football.

“I am really happy in how he’s adapted,” said Arteta. “Obviously it’s always something that you have to see, spending a year away from here in a completely different league.

“But playing the amount of minutes that he played and the way you could see he was growing and developing, he gave us a lot of reasons that he could be the player that we need.

“And in the last few weeks, he’s given us every reason to believe that we made the right decision, loaning him for a year because he now looks ready to go.”

Signed during Unai Emery’s tenure by Raul Sanllehi, there was, for quite some time, a sense that Saliba, in Arteta’s eyes, belonged to a bygone era. He did take a look at him ahead of the 2020/21 campaign but quickly decided the centre-back wasn’t up to scratch. This summer, things went very differently.

Arteta went on the record very early about his desire to integrate the Frenchman and he’s stuck by his word giving the player plenty of game time in pre-season.

“In our opinion, it’s not just my opinion, he needed that exposure [on loan],” continued Arteta.

“You don’t see players at 18 or 19 years old playing at their highest level in top clubs. It just doesn’t happen.

“We, as a club, a few years ago made a big investment because we believed he could be a player who could make a significant impact in our team and we believe again that the best way to do it is to give him a pathway that we couldn’t give him here, especially because we didn’t have Europe so he wouldn’t play so many minutes or very few minutes.

“Now we have a very different context and hopefully that will prove that for him and for the club it was the right decision. But at the time, I understand that we get criticised.”

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He feels like a new £100m signing. The jump up in quality and squad depth is insane this season and hopefully we’re not finished in this window.

Palace away will tell us exactly where we are now…. COYG 🚀🔥

Bleeding gums murphy

He looks a rolls Royce of a defender to me. I took my 7 year old to his first game last week and he looked it. Saliba was so impressive. I think it will be a battle of Gabriel and white for the other spot. Both made a fair few mistakes last week and both have it in em. I’m excited. I will be distraught if it goes pear shaped tonight.


It’s the perfect match IMO…our bogey fixture. Let’s fucking smash it !!!


I think Gabriel will always be on the left when fit and in form, Arteta likes his LCB to be left footed and vise versa. A lovely predicament to be in anyhow.


I suspect we will just see a lot less of Ben White at CB. He’ll play tons, but at RB and (potentially) DM if need be. Tomi may be the one who misses out, or he’ll get game time at LB (pushing Zinny into midfield) and/or DM But, point is, I think Arteta (rightly) rates White too highly to not fit him in in a variety of ways. And Gabriel’s left-footedness, aggression, and goal-scoring ability will keep him going as well. Great problem to have! Much rather be ‘worried’ we will leave someone out who easily could be starting than… Read more »


He is right. This worked pretty well. I think going on loan is much more acceptable for a homegrown player than a player coming from another league, especially for one with a such big price-tag. Neither the player nor the fans anticipated three years of loan, though it’s been the normal for many homegrowns.

Johnny 4 Hats

I do feel that of all the things Mikel has learnt from Wenger, his ability to handle the press like a politician is one of the more prevalent.

I like the way the journalists ask a certain question and Arteta is able to twist it into a strong, unifying statement that deflects away from the negative.


All he needs to do now is prefix his answers with a lofty “look, ehhhh, listen, ehhhh….”


Nacho de Montreal is tasty

I see a difference between Arteta and Wenger. Arteta is always about the club, the badge, positive emotions, feelings etc. Wenger is more of a football philosopher. Arteta more like the guy at your workplace who comes up with a Powerpoint full of words like synergy, leverage etc…

Johnny 4 Hats

😂😂 That is so true.


Let’s put a pin in that and circle back to see if we can leverage the synergies….

Martin R

Your description of Arteta is exactly what Wenger was about too.


Odds-on that the section of the supporter-base that clamoured for Saliba’s and Guendouzi’s inclusion and restoration, will ignore the Saliba development and continue to focus on the treatment, sale, and in their eyes, ‘world class’ Second Coming of Pele, Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta they believe Ol’ Matters to be…


I freely admit I felt the handling of Saliba was poor. And when he signs a new deal I’ll happily admit I was wrong. Until then I’m still shiiting my pants that we’re going to lose one of the most promising young defenders in all of world football. Until he signs this is a hyper delicate situation. I’m sure the reason he hasn’t yet is because his team wants to see if he’s actually going to play consistently (and probably not just in the Europa).


I think we need to remind ourselves that Saliba admits the loans were the best thing for his development, even if he was pissed off at several stages


And that’s something I’m not going to hold against him at this point. I didn’t care for the outbursts when they were happening, but it’s just what you do when you’re young. Another part of his maturing. Hopefully we do see that maturation at signing time.


Yeah to be fair to him even when he was getting a lot of praise last season, he was also very critical of himself. He knows he still has room to improve


“You don’t see players at 18 or 19 years old playing at their highest level in top clubs. It just doesn’t happen.:

Hello Saka


Unless their name is Bukayo!


He should probably have specified defenders. Well, central defenders and goalies.

Zadok the Regular Priest

There are still weaknesses in Saka’s game, so he’s not necessarily playing at his highest level. I’m not going to compare Messi because it isn’t fair, but think about what wingers like Robben or Salah can do in terms of pure efficiency in dribbling and finishing. Saka could well raise his level to around there given time. Also regarding Saliba, it’s all very well Arteta using a successful loan to justify the loan, but a successful loan also strengthens the argument that Saliba was good enough already. I don’t hold it against Arteta, I’m sure he had his reasons and… Read more »


Well I can never believe in: “he made the decision for Saliba’s own development even at the expense of last year’s squad”.

Zadok the Regular Priest

Maybe it’s not so black and white as that. But I would bet that Saliba was a better player than any of our backup CB options last year. However I also accept the gap was probably more marginal last year than it is now, which is the benefit of the loan – I think he improved more from the loan than he would have being backup to White and Gabriel. Which is the point I’m trying to make. But if last year you had to choose between Saliba, Holding, Chambers and Mari to play the RCB role in a back… Read more »


What? So we slipped out of top 4 because that’s not the plan? Serious apologist there.

Zadok the Regular Priest

Yeah. Not deliberately, but maybe indirectly. I’m trying to express a theory not an opinion. If the theory is wrong it’s because I’m overrating Saliba’s ability or because I’m overrating Arteta’s intelligence. That’s fine, whatever, I’m wrong. But tell me how. The assumptions I’ve used to make this theory ARE my opinions however. Which of them do you disagree with? – in the summer of 2021 Saliba was a better player than Holding (and Mari and Chambers) – Arteta knew Saliba was a better player than the others and let Saliba go on loan anyway (for Saliba’s own good) If… Read more »


I don’t understand how people can over-analyze Saliba and totally ignore the fact he had two serious injuries and had never completed a full campaign until last season

Maybe the reason Reiss Nelson’s development stagnated is we brought him back from his superb loan spell at Hoffenheim too soon? Maybe we as fans should just accept we don’t have all the info to judge player development from the outside.

The best evidence we do have is Saliba’s form and fitness right now, and I think we can say, so far so good.

Zadok the Regular Priest

If you’re saying you think I overrated Saliba then I can 100% respect that as a counterargument. Maybe Arteta did think Saliba needed a to prove himself over a full season before he could be certain he was better than Holding (and even Mari or Chambers). I just thought it was interesting to consider as an alternative, and the more I thought about it the more it kind of made sense. I still think Arteta and Edu took a risk, but I only ever meant to suggest it was an interesting reflection on the club’s priorities rather than a genuine… Read more »


This is completely absurd, all this stuff about Arteta thinking Saliba wasn’t “good enough” or whether Rob Holding was better is meaningless. The question with Saliba was – how do you adapt a player who’s suffered two serious injuries and never played a full 30+ game season to the demands of Premier League football? Last season was his first full season. His first! And we should be happy he got through it without picking up another injury and had a great campaign. Not griping about whether he should have been here last season. The kid is not even the finished… Read more »

Zadok the Regular Priest

Okay but can you just acknowledge I never said I was against the idea of Saliba going on loan? I’m sure there are people out there who are ‘griping’ but I’m not actually one of them – in fact I think it was a good idea for all the reasons you listed, and I spent most of the previous comment agreeing with what you said because I think they were good points. I was just trying to make my own nuanced point that while it was a good idea for the player it might – MIGHT – have impacted us… Read more »

A Different George

I think Saliba might indeed have been a better backup last year than the choices we actually had. But if he had played that role, that’s probably what he would be again this year. The reason people are so excited about him is precisely because he became a regular starter at a big club in an important league (no, not the Prem, but not shit either) under lots of scrutiny and pressure. Would he have developed as well and as quickly if he had spent last season mostly on the bench?


saka isn’t playing at his highest level yet


All looking great as long as he signs up for many years. Is that likely?


Said this before and I’ll say it again. I haven’t felt such positive vibes about a new centre half since we signed Sol Campbell from the walking dead up the road.

Come On You Gunners! 😊


Absolutely imperative we sign him up to a new deal as soon as possible. Everyone is aware he’s the best young centre half in the world and we don’t need to see him do it in an Arsenal shirt first to know that we need to secure him long term and not be in a scenario next summer where he’s got a year left on his deal and every top club is sniffing around.

A Different George

Let’s not be crazy: “the best young centre half in the world.” I have no idea what’s happening in Italy, or Brazil, and very little even about Spain, Germany, or France. Neither do you.


hmm he won young player of the season in france, so pretty sure there isnt a better center half there his age profile. And it might qualify him for the best cb in europe. Would be intersring how often cb won that award.

Merlin’s Panini

I agree the loans were successful but the proof that they were the right decision now will be him signing a new contract.


To me this should have been done last summer.

Merlin’s Panini

Looking at our potential starting line up for tonight there are some real units in there. White, Saliba, Gabriel, Xhaka and Partey are not the sort of player who can be bullied easily. Having that strength against a team like Palace will be crucial because they’re partial to some bastardry. We need to block the lanes to Zaha and not let him into dangerous positions (ie the penalty area) where he can dive (like usual). We have the personnel to win balls into the box and we have to be quick with transitions. If we are as ruthless as we… Read more »

Man Manny

All well that ends well in the final analysis; but some of the steps along the way might have been better handled though.

Public Elneny

Saliba would have made excellent progress wherever he played, because he’s a phenomenal talent and has that hunger to improve What we’ve done by sending him on loan to the same league for 3 years is run down his contract into the danger zone, before we’ve even given him a serious indication that he’s part of our plans, or a chance to feel settled here Fair play if we can convince him to sign a non-extortionate extension. But until then I still think he’s been handled poorly. And yes fair enough, Arteta and Edu have been learning on the job,… Read more »


Actually Arteta is fully entitled to blow his own trumpet about Saliba’s loan.

All the doomsayers swore he’d never even play for us again, yet here we are

Public Elneny

Until Saliba is settled and signs a new contract, the situation hasn’t been resolved. We want Saliba to play for us for many years, or worst case be able to extract the maximum transfer fee we can. Him being < 2 yrs from expiry before having a chance to develop a connection to this club isn’t a good position for us to be in to achieve either of those. And yes this situation has largely come about because of the total length of time he has spent on loan I know Arteta is working to rectify it but he hasn’t… Read more »


I agree with you about the negative stuff, speak your mind. But the flipside is also true about positives

We’ve added a potentially 80m pound player to our starting line-up, and we bought him for 27m. I say “potentially” because he still needs an injury-free season, and he still needs to become aerially dominant before we start talking about him like he’s the finished article


I think you’re 100% correct in both statements (and particularly your last statement – veering off script upsets the “cool kids” on Arseblog – those upvotes are life and death you know…).


I agree on the last statement, but it’s also the case that Saka also hasn’t signed a new deal yet. Does he also hate Arsenal because of how we treated him?

The reason certain negative opinions get down-voted on here is because it’s hard to differentiate those opinions from petty agendas

Public Elneny

I’m less concerned by Saka’s contract situation because he does already have that strong connection to the club and far as we can tell, feels at home here. I think it would take a real downturn in the club’s outlook or a truly ludicrous offer for his head to be turned at this stage in his career Saliba though doesn’t have that, it was even strongly rumoured he would rather have stayed at Marseille than come back here. We are just one of many big clubs he could be playing for in 2 years time if he maintains his form… Read more »


“hate”…nice of you to turn it so binary…


apparently you didn’t read anything about the player’s headspace during his period in the uk- going back to france for another year was the best choice for him as a person, not just a player/asset

Public Elneny

What about last year?

Public Elneny

Also the summer after his Saint Etienne loan, when he was rumoured to have recently suffered those personal tragedies. Where we failed to get his loan move through by the deadline, and subsequently decided to leave him unregistered in the league, behind the likes of Sokratis who we tried all summer to shift. Left to play the odd game with comparative children in the U-23s.

Saliba himself criticised his treatment, saying he was overlooked without being given a proper chance.

Real compassionate man management there

Heavenly Chapecoense

Wesley Fofana, three months older than Saliba has been playing for Leicester for ages.


yes he famously played for them last season and wasn’t mostly injured


lol people just memory-holed Saliba’s season-ending injuries like they never happened


There’s talk about Forfana being valued at £80m, so what about Saliba? That value may be high, but suggests we now have 3 £50m+ CD’s on our books!

David Seaman's Tash

I’m assuming they will unveil him as our new number 2 when Bellerin leaves, hopefully with a new contract to boot

Peter Cechs helmet

Enjoy him while we got him, I’ve a feeling he’s going to run down his contract and get a bucket load of money when he does.

Eric Blair


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