Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Arteta: Saliba’s intention was always to play for Arsenal

Mikel Arteta says he never had any doubts about William Saliba’s desire to prove himself at Arsenal and insists the plan was always to reintegrate the centre-back into the first team squad following his loan spell with Marseille.

The Ligue 1 side were so pleased with Saliba’s development during his 12 months at the Stade Velodrome that they wanted to keep the player but the Gunners were quick to rebuff the enquiry.

“The reality is that he was very convinced and determined to come here,” Arteta told reporters ahead of the clash with Leicester. 

“He had no other choice (in his head), he never suggested anything else.

“From the first conversations I had with him, you could see that he only had one intention – to come here and start to play football matches for Arsenal.”

After impressing in pre-season, Saliba made his long-awaited competitive debut in the season opener at Crystal Palace and, after helping his side to a clean sheet, was awarded the man of the match award.

Already a fully-fledged France international, he is a very exciting prospect. At the same time, Arteta is wary of everyone getting carried away.

“I think expectations and positive expectations are created when you see something special in a player and it’s obvious: they’ve seen that, they see the talent,” he noted.

“What I would say is, instead of doing that, just protect the player. Let’s protect him, let’s make sure he has the right environment to fulfil his potential and when things don’t go that well that we are as good as we are when things are going well.”

Arteta also channelled his inner Arsene Wenger by openly stating that blooding youngsters can come at a cost.

Arteta told reporters ahead of the clash with Leicester. , the Frenchman remarked: “You pay for the education of young players with points. I play a young central defender of 20-years-old and I know he will cost me points in the season. I have to stand up for that.”

Arteta’s take is very similar.

“Mistakes are part of football at 21 and 35,” he said. “They’re going to happen, the mistakes that we want to happen are as much as possible on the training field and if they happen on the pitch they don’t cause you goals. That’s the objective. But inevitably, things will happen.

“I always said that especially with the young and development portfolio of players that we have in our squad, you have to pay a bill. And that bill is that at some stage they’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to experience things for the first time and they have to go through that process.”

Arteta had earlier been asked about Saliba’s contract situation and whether the club were in talks over a new deal. He wouldn’t be drawn on the specifics of talks but did hint that he has to show the player some love after an unusual start to his Arsenal career.

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George Charlie

I really hope he signs an extension to his contract. With him, Gabriel, and Ben White, we have the best trio of CB’s since the days of Tony Adams, Keown and Campbell. They did OK!!!


Spot on. 👍😊

Naked Cygan

Pls don’t get too carried away. The guys you mentioned above have won the League. Let’s get through today’s game with a good result and hopefully break into the top 4 first and then see what happens.

George Charlie

Fair point, but it’s hard not to when we started last season with Mari as left CB and Holding as the sub!!


Saliba, White, Gabriel and Holding (with Tomiyasu and Tierney able to deputise in a crisis) is a long, long way better than Mustafi, Luiz, Sokratis and Mari – with the likes of Kolasinac as emergency backup. What a difference a few years make. Credit to Arteta and Edu. Who would disagree that this is the best defence we’ve had since the Invincibles?


He and Saka are the absolute future of this club.

They have to be, if we’re going to get back amongst the ECL and the Premiership title.

Praying we can keep everyone reasonably fit and secure top four this season.

The rest, contracts, better players and bigger prizes will follow.

We can do this!


Man Manny

I’ll be glad if his intention now is to continue playing for Arsenal beyond his current contract.


I imagine that Saliba needs to be sure that the manager sees him as one of the first names on his team sheet and let’s not kid ourselves his agent will also be talking to other clubs that’ll be watching the contract situation closely. But the longer William spends at Arsenal the more settled he’ll become and in any case Arsenal can pay as well as anyone.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

That’s the thing, with a contract situation lurking in the background, Saliba will surely start the lion’s share of our matches even if he makes one or two errors. That’s just shrewd long-term planning.

And with Ben White being Mikel and Edu’s big money defender signing, it will be White and Saliba starting together on the right side of defense for the big games this season.


Gabriel and Saliba are the best pairing since Campbell and Adams. I completely understand that William won’t be drawn on an extension util he sees regular game time. If he keeps up the high levels he set last week, that won’t be a problem.


Campbell and Adams barely played more than a dozen games together for Arsenal as far as I remember. I’d go for Adams/ Bould or Campbell/ Toure

Nainsley Aitland Miles

That’s a bold statement to make after just one game together.

It is exciting no doubt, but let’s see how he does against better strikers than Edouard.

If I remember correctly, Willian was MOTM on his debut against Fulham two years ago and involved in all three goals.

Public Elneny

Saliba level young talents on balance win points over a season rather than lose them. He might make a mistake or 2 in a couple of games to cost us points, but almost every defensive player will, and his ability will more than make up for it There is maybe a short term points trade off with young talents like Tavares and Lokonga who still have some basics to grasp (although any experienced player signed to fill a limited squad role will probably lack something too). Or the Wenger youth project days of Djourou, Denilson, Walcott etc in our strongest… Read more »


He played brilliantly in pre season and against Palace. Can’t say that he looks over joyed to be at the club though. Haven’t yet seen signs from him that Arsenal is his long term home. Hope a new contract is offered and signed soon.

Heavy Gunner

On what grounds do you maintain that he doesn’t ‘look overjoyed’ being at the club? Only a couple of days ago I read something about Gabriel M. telling how great he was getting on with William and they’ve struck up a fine friendship; speaking French and getting William accustomed to the team and his new comrades in arms. Or maybe you have inside info? Please illuminate on it for all us other mortals..


Do you want to see him have a tattoo that reads…”I am overjoyed to be here?”


That would be great tbh

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