Everybody was extremely surprised when William Saliba arrived at Arsenal in the summer of 2020, but Mikel Arteta immediately decided that the youngster wasn’t ready to play in the Premier League, and didn’t even register the Frenchman in the first team squad.
Any summer loan deals fell through and Saliba had to wait until the January window to open before he could get to play any football at all, but he now admits that it made him think about his position and it drove him to want to improve himself as much as possible so that he could play every week.
“There are hard times,” Saliba told Eurosport. “I hadn’t played a game for six months.
“You have to fight in a career. We must take that as a lesson to go further. It gave me a little slap to say: ‘You are nobody!’ You can be bought for 30 million euros, arrive in a club and we put you aside.
“I took this experience by being positive. I feed on it. I know what it’s like not to play for six months. Today, I want to play every game. It puts the ideas back in place. Before arriving at Arsenal, I said to myself: ‘Who am I going to play with?’ And then you are not even in the group in the Premier League.
“It is not a direct message,” he adds. “But since I didn’t play for six months, that I had a hard time, I wanted to show that I had the capacity to play at this club. I do it for myself first. It’s not revenge.”
“I’m on loan,” he says. “But I pretend I’m there for many years. I’m not thinking about returning to Arsenal [right now]. I give myself to Marseille. I don’t think about what will happen afterwards.”
Going by reports from France, it seems that Saliba is performing very well in a Marseille side that has conceded less goals than any other Ligue 1 club, and they are currently second in the table.
Of course Arsenal will be looking carefully at his progress and performances, and it remains to be seen whether Arteta will find a place for him in the first team next season, but I sincerely hope we get to finally see him in Arsenal’s colours.
If not, I’m sure we could get a good price for him, but we may be letting aa future superstar slip through our fingers…