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William Saliba speaks out over his Arsenal future and Arteta’s transfer decision

William Saliba has admitted that Mikel Arteta’s decision felt like “a good slap”.

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William Saliba. (Photo via Getty images)

Arsenal defender William Saliba on-loan at Marseille has spoken out on the expectations he had when he joined Arsenal and how Mikel Arteta’s decision felt.

Saliba was signed from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for £27m and remained at the French outfit for the 2019/20 season.

The 20-year-old was frozen out of the first team after Arteta deemed him unready and had to settle for training and playing in the youth team. He was, later on, sent on loan to Nice in the winter of 2021 and Marseille at the start of this season.

Saliba said he expected to play regularly for Arsenal when he first joined in 2019 and admitted injury troubles affected his game time.

“There are things like that in football, there are difficult times. Saliba told RMC Sport. “It’s not all rosy. Even if it didn’t go well on a personal level, I take it as an experience. It gave me a stronger mentality.

“Before going to Arsenal, I said to myself that I was going to play, I was convinced I would, I wondered who I was going to play with. I then arrived, I didn’t play any games, I played with the Under-23s. It gave me a good slap.

“Today, I am more focused. We have to do more each time. For the coach [Arteta], I wasn’t ready yet. When there was the first lockdown, I was at home in Paris. I didn’t do anything at all, I only ran a little, I didn’t have any physical condition.

“Then the question was asked whether I was going to play in the Coupe de France (for Saint-Etienne). Then I came back. I trained for two weeks on my own. We had two or three friendlies but I had to regain physical condition.

“The league then followed quickly and the coach [Arteta] felt that I was not ready. I respect his decision.”

Arteta has insisted that the highly-rated centre-back is part of Arsenal’s long-term future. Saliba has made 27 appearances for Marseille across all competitions and is expected to return to Arsenal next season.

A keen follower and fan of Arsenal since the mid-2000s with passion for the game. I aim to write honest and interesting articles about the club I love, and to share my opinions with as many other fans as possible.

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