I, like many others on JA, have been asking what exactly has gone on with William Saliba and how we haven’t seen him play in a competitive league match for us since he signed.
Signed in 2019 by Mr Emery for 27 million and loaned straight back to St Etienne, at the time that was a decision that was, without doubt, the best course of action because of his age and needing more first team experience. No one could argue against that.
This now for me is where it gets interesting, Emery only lasted up to December that year and never had the opportunity to actually see him line up for us. Arteta took over and saw us through until the end of the season.
The 2020-2021 season Arteta signed in Willian, Pablo Mari, Thomas Partey and Gabriel – all very experienced players apart from maybe Gabriel. Once again Saliba was sent back to France on loan, a decision maybe that was split between the fan base as a right one or wrong one.
Season ended with us 8th and the worst season in a quarter of a century.
2021-2022 the club go in a different direction, signing up-and-coming youngsters. Not one player out of the six at the time was older than 23, Tavares and Lokonga both being 21, just one year older than Saliba.
Now this is where my own personal view comes in as to why Saliba was allowed to once again go out on loan. Surely if the direction the club are going in, does Saliba not fit the criteria? Nearly 21 years old, 192 cm tall CB with great pace and reads the game exceptionally.
Why did the club and more importantly Arteta allow this to happen, when first team squad spots were given to the likes of Mari, Kolasinac and Chambers, who between them this season you could probably count on one hand their appearances?
Now I’m sure some fans will argue that he’s young and needed the starts rather than sitting on the bench, but is this is what all youngsters do at the beginning of their careers. ESR was loaned out for 2 years, came back and forced us way into the first team. That for me should have happened to Saliba this season, not sent out for a third year and now potentially us not ever getting the chance to see him line up for us.
Arteta’s words at the beginning of the season did not sit well with me and seemed more an excuse, because maybe he wasn’t his signing?
Will he be here next season? I’m not so sure. If the club stick with Arteta, I believe Saliba will seek pastures new.
I for one could not blame him.