Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal fans that William Saliba is not quite ready for the first-team, with many expecting the defender to make his debut today.
Our side made the short trip across London today to take on Fulham in the Premier League’s opening fixture, but despite a number of defenders on the sideline, Saliba was a surprise omission.
Manager Arteta has now revealed that he will take ‘some time’ before he will be ready to make his mark on the first-team.
“I think it’s going to take him [Saliba] some time to adapt to our way of playing but as well to get adapted to the language, the rhythm, the physicality of the country,” MA told reporters prior to kick-off (via DailyStar).
The Spaniard goes onto claim that his absences during the previous season and his injuries have also had a negative effect, before later hinting at further additions at centre-half.
“As well we have to bear in mind that he didn’t play much football last season with all the injuries he had,” the Gunners boss added.
“So, I think it will be a process that we have to be patient, picking the right games with the right environment and trying to grow because he [Saliba] has a really good potential.
“Everyone was saying that we had too many central defenders and it’s a funny case right now that it’s the position we are short at the moment with all the injuries.
“But I’m hopeful in the next few weeks that situation will resolve and we’ll be in a stronger position.”
Rob Holding, Sokratis and Calum Chambers have all been linked with exits this summer, but Arteta’s comments seem to hint that we will need further additions to the squad, not departures, and I can’t help but feel that Arteta expected Saliba to be able to make the step up to the first-team squad prior to pre-season.
How telling is it that Saliba wasn’t deemed ready for the squad, but Gabriel Magalhaes was ready to start today despite only limited time training with the squad?