Mikel Arteta has admitted that he made a mistake by leaving Arsenal’s William Saliba out of his playing squad for the Europa League.
The French defender signed from St Etienne last summer in a deal that included him staying with his former club for last season, and he joined up with our playing squad towards the end of the Premier League campaign last term.
With French football having ended their divisions early thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, Saliba’s last competitive match was on March 8, and Mikel Arteta had previously doubted his readiness to compete for a role in his senior squad, but he now admits that he was wrong, and that he is now building up his confidence and improving his English which is a huge plus.
“I feel really bad for William Saliba,” Arteta explained ahead of the Europa League clas (via Goal). “Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.
“I was hoping that Pablo would be back in two weeks but he had a setback and then we don’t have Pablo and we don’t have William when he’s fit and available to play, but when you make those decisions, you can’t always think about every possible outcome.”
Asked if Saliba was making progress after a tentative start to life at Arsenal, Arteta added: “Yes, he’s in a much better place.
“He’s feeling a lot more confident around the place, his language is improving and he’s starting to understand much better what we’re doing physically.
“He’s played a few games with the under-23s which he needed because he didn’t play any football in the last seven or eight months. Things are progressively getting better and better.”
Saliba’s former team-mate Wesley Fofana is also enjoying a role in the Premier League with Leicester, but Saliba was believed to be the better of the two, which can only mean big things…
Could Saliba make his Premier League debut against Manchester United this weekend?