Should We Be Worried About What Saliba Is Saying? By Dan Smith
Is it me, or is William Saliba not exactly speaking like someone who is in any rush to return to the Emirates?
The defender was being interviewed after being named Nice’s player of the month. That should be good news for all parties, the idea of sending the teenager back to Ligue 1 was to find his form. Yet instead Saliba isn’t being shy to, in his own way, tell his parent club, ‘I told you so’.
Arsenal have a policy of loaning out their youngsters as part of their development. Yet while Arteta always spoke like he was looking after the 19-year-old, Saliba clearly disagrees.
Our manager cited Ligue 1 being cancelled in March as damaging to Saliba as it meant 6 months without competitive football. The Spaniard also suggested that on top of moving to a new country due to Covid, the centre back was dealing with personal issues, believed to be the death of his parents. That’s why the choice to not include him in the first team squad was not scrutinised as it would have been for someone who cost approx. 30 million.
Life is bigger than football. I can’t imagine how I would cope if anything happened to my Mum, so it certainly wasn’t anyone’s business telling a teenager how to grieve. Yet if Arsenal were in fact showing a duty of care, wouldn’t Saliba be more grateful for that support?
Even if he disagrees and felt ready to play, wouldn’t he at least respect Arsenal for caring?
Reading his interview with RMC, it’s clear the centre back doesn’t feel like this is Arsenal putting their arm round his shoulder and if it is, well.. they forgot to discuss the issue with him: “When I saw that the coach changed a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change. He [Arteta] judged me on two and a half matches. I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready. I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that. When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good, so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.’
This contradicts what his boss is saying. The player clearly says he showed up in pre-season willing to play and if there has been a ‘change’ which has slowed down his Gunners career, it’s that the man who signed him, Unai Emery, is not there. You must wonder how Arteta will react to being contradicted, especially if he genuinely feels he’s looking after a young man after a hard year. Surely his last instructions to the player was to do his talking on the pitch?
Instead, in just over a month back in his homeland, Saliba has given three interviews. All three have the same tone, he disagrees he wasn’t ready to play in England, was hurt by his treatment and his now happy (which implies he wasn’t happy).
If you speak to Joe Willock or Maitland Niles, they speak about their loan with the understanding this is to help them be better players for Arsenal. When Saliba was asked about his future he said: “I don’t know. I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future. So, I am focused on just these six months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest, we will see.’
Those are not the words of someone who’s long term focus is to be in Arsenal’s first team. Arsenal have already confirmed he has a long-term future in North London, so why put doubt in the air?
The player certainly hasn’t thought or cared how his parent club might feel about him criticising them, in particular Arteta.
He reminds me of a sort of character that; the better he does for Nice, the more assurances he will want from Arsenal.
He already has a big reputation in France and knows there are clubs who will have him if Arsenal don’t want to.
Is Arteta the type of manager who you disrespect then are welcomed back into the first team?
Ask Guendouzi that question!
As things stand though, the way Saliba is talking, he could be the biggest waste of money ever, as it’s still not clear if he will ever play for us.
Of course there is every chance that the player doesn’t see what his coaches do. He might feel in his head he was training well while it takes other eyes to see things are affecting you. There’s countless times in life when you think your fine but are not.
In Arteta’s defence he will say the reason he’s playing well in France is he’s back where he’s comfortable with friends and family. Hence why Nice was chosen as the place to loan him too.
Saliba disagrees, feeling what he’s currently doing he could do in England.
It must be frustrating to see Arsenal in 11th place, yet told you’re not good enough.
Maybe Arsenal are simply being over protective towards a teenager who has had a lot to deal with.
The more you watch Saliba play though and the more you hear him talk, something simply doesn’t add up.
Be Kind In The Comments