Although signing for Arsenal in the August 2019 transfer window, William Saliba has yet to pull on the famous red and white jersey. This is because the defender was loaned straight out to St Etienne for the remainder of the season.
However, the exciting French defender has now training with his new teammates ahead of the new campaign.
Arteta has made his feelings clear, that he is looking to protect his young new player, as he steps up a level to compete in the unforgiving Premier League environment.
This was one of the reasons Saliba was loaned back last season, in order for him to gain more minutes under his belt. Otherwise, Arteta has admitted he would have struggled to throw his new player in at the deep end in a such a physical, challenging league.
However, despite noticeable improvement under Arteta since January, the Gunner back line is still capable of worrying lapses and with some of the central defenders being injured and others seemingly being made available for sale, the Spaniard may have to throw the young man in at the deep end sooner that he might have hoped.
Football betting suggests Arteta’s Arsenal side are more likely to finish in a Europa League spot, rather than the Champions League. Arsenal have failed to finish in the top four once again last campaign, and without serious investment, they may well fall short once again. Saliba and potentially Gabriel, reportedly arriving from Lille represent that investment.
The 19-year-old has made just 28 appearances for St Etienne’s first team, but he has represented the French youth teams from under 17 through to the under 20s where he is still plying his trade. Despite his relative inexperience though, most observers of Ligue 1 feel Arsenal have made a real coup as Saliba has immense talent and a high ceiling, That said, it still is a tall order for the young French centre back to come in and try and make an impact straightaway but in Arteta his has the right coach to help and guide him.
It isn’t as if Arsenal are short of centre backs, however, it is just the quality fans demand which is severely lacking, which has led to the rumours that several are now deemed surplus to requirements.
Rob Holding has struggled with injuries but has proven to be a regular under Arteta. Shkodran Mustafi has continuously been found out in the Premier League, with plenty of fans making it clear they do not want him to feature in the squad. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Callum Chambers have also proven to be inconsistent and not good enough to hold down regular places.
All the above may be sold and will Pablo Mari injured it does seem increasingly likely that Saliba will feature from the outset of 20/21. After all Arsenal spent big money on the youngster and with the right guidance, he could prove himself to be ready to take the next step on his career, despite his tender year and relative inexperience.
There will no doubt be more movement in the transfer market for Arsenal, but there doesn’t appear to be the funds like Manchester City or Liverpool have to improve, and faith will have to be shown in their younger players coming through.
William Saliba has come to Arsenal at the right time considering their defensive woes at present, and it could be his time to prove his worth, albeit earlier than expected.
Gunners Town is a premier Arsenal blogging platform for passionate and knowledgeable Gooners. Established in 2012, the site has garnered over 5 million views.