Arsenal will benefit from William Saliba’s Marseille loan whether or not he returns to the club
Despite all the talk surrounding William Saliba and what his future might look like, it’s easy to forget the fact that he has yet to play a competitive game in an Arsenal shirt.
So why all the fuss?
Signed from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019 for a fee of £27m, the Gunners faithful had high hopes for the now 21-year-old. So far, things haven’t gone as planned.
As part of his initial signing, it was agreed that the centre-back would be loaned to the Greens for a season before joining the Premier League giants the following summer, but he wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms.
The deal for Saliba was done before Mikel Arteta arrived at London Colney and it became clear fairly quickly that the Spaniard was going to make up his own mind about the player, rather than feeling pressured to include him in depending on how much money he had. employers had separated to recruit him.
But even Arteta’s staunchest supporters would have to admit that the handling of his comeback was nothing short of chaotic. The decision to bar him immediately raised many eyebrows, but the failure of another loan deal and his subsequent exclusion from the registered squad has limited the promising young talent’s participation in training sessions for the first half of the season.
The following January, Saliba was allowed to join Nice on loan for the rest of the season, but only after spending six months in the shadows, straining the relationship between the player and the London club.
The defender has made no secret of his frustration, repeatedly hinting that all is not well between his people and the management of Arsenal, which has raised questions as to whether he will ever feel at home in north London as Arteta takes the lead. A good season at Marseille, however, saw him get his career back on track, forcing his return to consideration and earning his first senior caps for France.
Judging by his performances in Ligue 1 over the past eight months, it’s clear that this latest loan spell has been positive, giving him the perfect platform to develop his game further. He’s playing with a lot more confidence and, can -be especially in the eyes of the boss of the Gunners, more maturity.
That’s not to say he’s been perfect, he himself admitted struggles at various points in the campaign. But again, his openness to self-criticism and reflection enhances those watching at a higher level of professionalism than previously displayed.
It’s unclear if Saliba is confident he can put his past with Arteta behind him and if he would get the playing time at Emirates Stadium he feels he deserves – casting doubt on whether he will be reinstated in the squad or its sale. .
Despite the criticism Arteta and Arsenal have faced over their handling of the centre-back, however things go this summer, the Gunners will benefit.
Either they welcome a much more complete defender than the one they loaned out this summer, having made 40 appearances for Les Olympiens, who will add more depth to their young, developing squad.
Or, given his growing reputation, they may demand a fee similar to what they paid to sign him in the first place, increasing their transfer budget ahead of what will be another big summer amid the current rebuild. .