Could William Saliba ever play for Arsenal if Arteta stays?

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.

Dan kit

Tags Arteta Saliba


  1. I think White has been overhyped based purely on his price tag. I think he should move to the midfield and make room for a real defender like Saliba.

      1. Ramsdale
        Tomi Saliba Gabriel Tierney
        White(DM) Partey(B2B)
        Saka *new striker* Martinelli/Pepe

        Partey is a B2B, MA is not getting the best out of him because he’s playing the wrong position. White can then sweep in front of the back 4 and distribute give Partey the freedom he needs to push higher. Pepe on the LW where he is much better(don’t tell MA, he’ll figure it out one day).

    1. If White is still shaky in the right CB position, Arteta will have to play Saliba

      Imagine if we play with 4-3-3 and White plays as CDM. He has the potential to be better than Fernandinho and Fabinho

  2. Without having seen Saliba in a full competitive match ,I cannot comment on your positive views concerning his strengths which I assume outweigh his weaknesses.That said, on the assumption that you are correct in your assessment, I agree that the way his career is evolving suggests, that he is unlikely to ever pull on an Arsenal shirt.At a time when we are well off for centre backs in terms of quantity, if not in quality, the continued absence of Saliba frustrates me as it must do for other Arsenal fans.On the subject of centre backs, I have seen Tomi excel in that position in Italy and I suspect he could do a great job for us if necessary.He is an excellent defender, and one of the best buys we have made for some time.

  3. It is just a very puzzling situation for me. If Arteta felt Saliba was not ready, then fair enough on his part. But by that same metric, how can one convince others that Nketiah is somehow ready?

    I merely point to Nketiah as an example of “not being ready” in comparison to Saliba.

    Nketiah had a loan to a lower league, and was benched for lack of productivity. Saliba went to league one and is more influential in his squad.

    Nketiah has done SFA in an Arsenal shirt, yet somehow Arteta rates him. And Saliba deemed “not good enough” to compete or at least come off the bench?

    The man and game management shown by Arteta has been poor at best. Results and the table don’t lie.

    Currently we are in the same position as when Arteta took over. 2 years and we have stabilized the club at best, I see no progress in terms of results or play.

    This club is desperate for an experienced manager that can develop this core of young players, and instill the mentality and leadership we so desperately need at this time.

  4. Saliba has all it takes to be in Aresnals starting eleven. Arteta tend to have a dislike for some of the players he inherited from Unai emery. Arteta’s ego is way over board..

  5. I think saliba may not play for arsenal as long as the apprentice is still in charge, same with guendozi.

    Two good players with great potentials but mismanaged by the ego centric apprentice.

  6. Just to think of it, Arteta never had a transition period as manager in the lower league’s with smaller teams before coming to Arsenal, which, he needed. Yet, a young talented player, Saliba (not yet the finished product),but great potential, was deemed not good enough by Arteta.Saliba was ranked amongst the top five young defenders across Europe and could not play for Arsenal,while, Mari, Kolasinac, Holding, Mustafi and Chambers despite injuries played. What a mystery and shame that was to Saliba. If, after all the good performances that Saliba has put in while on loan for St.Ettienne, Nice and now Marseille, especially against the top front four across Europe with the likes of Mbapphe, Messi, Neymar and Di Maria(keeping a clean sheet) doesn’t count, nothing else will to Arteta. I think whether or not Arteta keeps his job, Arsenal must keep Saliba. He is huge value for the club, as a young talented player that adds quality and depth to the squad. Saliba has been a fan of Arsenal since his boyhood days and is eager to show his worth, passion, love and loyalty to Arsenal , with or without Arteta. Saliba recently was captain of France under 21 squad, and former and current players and coaches rate him highly, as fans do.

  7. White has had one bad game and everyone is calling for his head whilst Partey has had so many bad games I’ve lost count. Having said that, I do think White would make a decent DM.

    1. To be entirely fair , how many Arsenal fans were against us buying Thomas Partey before the deal was done?I don’t recall one dissenting voice on this site, but I may be wrong.The problem with Partey is that he is being instructed to anchor our midfield when he is a box to box player.The lack of a quality DM is the main reason why our midfield does not function effectively, and until this gap is closed we will continue to be vulnerable to any counter attacks.As I and many others have mentioned some time ago the fact that
      Ben White has most of the attributes to be a good DM seems to have escaped the notice of our Manager.

    2. Whites actually looked shaky in quite a few moments whenever playing better opposition.

      I bet my left nut that Saliba is a better CB than White already.

  8. Saliba made the fatal mistake of questioning the clearly infallible Arteta, as such he was excommunicated to the continent…this is what happens when you employ a fragile manager with no clear plan…this is eerily similar to the latter Wenger years when anyone who might have infringed upon his monopolistic locker room control was removed from the equation, regardless if retaining the player in question was actually in the best interests of the club as a whole…as such, I would be shocked if Saliba ever donned the kit so long as Arteta is patrolling the sidelines, barring an unforeseen incident like a serious injury to a regular starter or if one of our starting CBs demanded a move elsewhere…it’s too bad, as I think if we had kept Saliba, Mavro, Gabs and then purchased White, especially with Tomi, Tierney and Nuno on board, we could have cultivated a very tactically flexible defensive core for years to come

    1. Personally I always get a good laugh hearing Arteta tell Saliba, or any player for that matter, “they are not ready.”

      Arteta should look in the mirror first, before telling anyone they are “not ready.” I would argue that Arteta is not ready, and no where close in fact.

      1. I should have mentioned mavro in the article as this seems to be another player in the same situation .
        Like you said TRVL them 2 coming back in would have gave us a lot more room for experimenting if things weren’t going so well with the first picks .

  9. Dan kit, excellent article that gives one food for thought.

    Why fans keep mentioning past managers has nothing to do with the article… it seems they are obsessed with bringing either UE / AW into ANY article is beyond me.

    The decision to loan out Saliba was taken by MA and, it seems, in agreement with the player.
    He then invested heavily in White, while letting Mavs also continue his loan deal, with a ludicrous buy out clause.

    Someone listed the players that MA has let go / sold and, apart from Willian I believe, all were signed before he became manager.

    I just cannot understand why we pursued Saliba so relentlessly as a club, yet have given scant regard to the player.

    Another unfortunate and inexplicable decision by our current manager.

    1. of course Ken, I don’t think Arteta is the second coming of your quintessential managerial overlord, but he was on the payroll when some of the very things I made note of were happening, so it’s not such a ludicrous notion to suggest that this could have been “learned” behaviour…maybe Arteta was trying to lure Wenger back to the Emirates to be his “fine” cop

  10. Can we at least accept that the reason William Saliba was loaned back to St Ettienne after he was bought for Unai Emery was that it was a CONDITION OF CONTRACT FOR THE TRANSFER to Arsenal. Subsequent loans of Saliba have been entirely the decision of Mikel Arteta. If Arteta remains manager Saliba will not play for Arsenal, in my opinion.

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